Transport statistics at regional level
Data extracted in March 2021.
Planned article update: 7 October 2022.
In 2019, the Italian region of Lombardia had the highest number of passenger cars (6.2 million) across the regions of the EU.
Among EU regions, Prov. Luxembourg in Belgium had the highest incidence of fatalities in road accidents in 2019, at 171 deaths per million inhabitants.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle in France was the busiest passenger airport in the EU, with 76.1 million passengers carried in 2019.
European Union (EU) transport policy aims to promote environmentally friendly, safe and efficient travel, while underpinning the rights of citizens, goods and services to circulate freely within the single market.
In spring 2020, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the EU, virtually all EU Member States implemented containment measures and restrictions on non-essential travel internally and/or internationally. Some partially or completely closed borders. Where international travel continued, it was in some cases accompanied by a requirement to go into quarantine. These travel-related restrictions had an immediate and massive impact on nearly all modes of transport, particularly concerning passenger transport. As the pandemic continued in 2020 and into 2021, waves of travel restrictions were imposed and lifted with some subsequently reinstated. Commercial transport services that operated during the pandemic implemented initiatives to try to protect transport workers and travellers, as well as to ensure the circulation of goods (particularly essential goods) within and between EU Member States as well as between the EU and non-member countries.
This article focuses on regional statistics for road, air and rail transport as well as road accidents. Note the latest available data relate to the 2019 reference period (as such, they do not cover any impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic). The first section presents information concerning road transport and accidents: the number of passenger cars relative to the total number of inhabitants (otherwise referred to as the motorisation rate), as well as the number of road accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities. The second section provides statistics on air traffic: regional data for the number of passengers carried as well as information for the busiest airports. The final section concerns the density of rail networks.
Note that a wider selection of information for transport infrastructure was presented in a previous edition of the Eurostat regional yearbook.
Road transport and accidents
Roads are by far the most common transport mode in the EU for passenger and inland freight transport. Policy objectives for road transport include, among other issues: ensuring mobility on an ever more congested road network; reducing road fatalities; lowering air pollution (emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants) and the carbon footprint to which road transport contributes; decreasing the reliance on fossil fuel use and promoting the use of electric vehicles; reviewing the working conditions of professional drivers.
In 2019, there were 241 million passenger cars circulating on the roads of the EU. Across NUTS level 2 regions, in absolute terms the largest number of passenger cars was recorded in Lombardia (Italy), with 6.2 million in 2019. Leaving aside Portugal (for which only national data are available), the next highest regional figures were for Île-de-France (the French capital region; 5.2 million) and Andalucía (Spain; 4.2 million).
The EU motorisation rate — or the average number of passenger cars per inhabitant — stood at 540 per 1 000 inhabitants; in other words, there was just over one car for every two persons in the EU. In mature markets, the use of passenger cars may be expected to be relatively low in regions characterised by efficient and extensive public transport systems that have frequent services. In these regions, people may be less inclined to own a vehicle (or multiple vehicles within one household), especially when the regions where they live/work suffer from congestion and/or difficulties to find a place to park. This pattern was particularly apparent in capital and urban regions of western and Nordic Member States. By contrast, in eastern and southern parts of the EU the highest motorisation rates were often recorded in capital regions. Motorisation rates were also relatively high in several regions that receive a large number of tourists.
Berlin (Germany) had one of the lowest motorisation rates in the EU, at 330 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants in 2019. Car ownership in Berlin was considerably lower than in any other part of Germany, with the next lowest motorisation rates being recorded in Bremen and Hamburg (429 and 430 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants respectively). Relatively low motorisation rates — less than 475 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants — were also reported in the capital regions of Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Bulgaria.
Higher motorisation rates are often found in suburban, rural and peripheral regions, especially when these lack alternative modes of inland passenger transport. The highest motorisation rates in the EU — at least 700 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants in 2019 — are shown by the darkest orange shade in Map 1. These regions were principally located in Italy (five regions), Poland and Finland (two regions each). There were three other regions with rates above this threshold: Flevoland (the Netherlands), which is in commuting distance of the Dutch capital region; Attiki and Praha, the capital regions of Greece and Czechia.
The motorisation rate in Valle d’Aosta/Vallee d’Aoste (Italy) was 9.4 times as high as that recorded in Peloponnisos (Greece)
The highest motorisation rates were recorded in northern Italy: Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (1 711 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants), Provincia Autonoma di Trento (1 241) and Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen (932). Note that these statistics may reflect specific circumstances: for example, the high rate in Valle d’Aosta/Vallee d’Aoste is, at least in part, attributed to lower taxation on new vehicle registrations. At the other end of the range, the lowest motorisation rate was recorded in Peloponnisos (southern mainland Greece), at 182 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants. There were 20 other regions with motorisation rates that were below 375 passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants (as shown by the darkest blue shade in Map 1); a majority of these were regions from Greece and Romania.
In most EU Member States, there was little variation between regions for motorisation rates — see Figure 1. Slovenia has only two NUTS level 2 regions, and they had almost identical motorisation rates. Lithuania, Ireland and Denmark also have few regions, and the rates in each of these Member States were all within a narrow range. This situation was not reserved for smaller Member States, as the dispersion of rates in Poland was also low, as it was to a lesser extent in Germany and France. The Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Greece showed a greater regional dispersion, mainly due to each having one region with a particularly high rate. Italy also had a high regional dispersion, as three northern regions — as mentioned above — had motorisation rates that were notably higher than in the rest of Italy (as well as being higher than in any other region of the EU).
Figure 2 illustrates the development in passenger car ownership and motorisation rates over the most recent 10-year period for a selection of NUTS level 2 regions, namely those with the largest numbers of passenger cars and those with the highest motorisation rates.
Among the regions with large numbers of passenger cars, the Italian capital region (Lazio) recorded a relatively stable development; in 2019, the number of passenger cars was 0.3 % higher than in 2009. The French capital region (Île-de-France) also recorded little overall growth (up 5.6 %), as an increase of 7.1 % in 2010 was partially compensated by falling passenger car numbers for five years between 2014 and 2018. Lombardia (Italy) recorded a steady increase in car numbers, up 8.2 % overall, while stronger growth was observed for the two Spanish regions: 12.3 % for Andalucía and 18.0 % for the capital region (Comunidad de Madrid).
Relatively strong growth was recorded for the motorisation rate for the five regions shown in the lower half of Figure 2, particularly for the three northern Italian regions. The motorisation rate for the Provincia Autonoma di Trento more than doubled from 574 per 1 000 inhabitants in 2009 to 1 241 per 1 000 inhabitants in 2019.
Road safety in the EU has improved in recent decades and EU roads are among the safest in the world. That said, road safety remains a major societal issue: in 2018, there were 23 563 road fatalities and no fewer than 1.23 million injuries on the EU’s roads. In recent years, there has been some evidence of a slowdown in the rate at which the number of EU road fatalities has been falling.
To address the issue of road safety, the EU has adopted Vision Zero, which aims to reduce the number of deaths on the EU’s roads to almost zero by 2050. Vision Zero provides a strategic plan and monitoring of key safety performance indicators, for example on vehicle safety, seat belt wearing rates, speed compliance or post-crash care. The strategy has set the initial goal of cutting in half the number of fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
In 2018, there were 53 road fatalities per million inhabitants across the EU. Map 2 confirms that some of the highest incidence rates for road fatalities in 2019 were recorded in rural regions. By contrast, urban regions tended to report a much lower incidence of road fatalities. This may be linked to lower average speeds: for example, there may be lower speed limits in built-up areas or motorway networks in and around major conurbations may be frequently congested. Equally, road accident statistics include fatalities and injuries in vehicles which are in transit through a region as well as fatalities and injuries of non-residents staying in a region on holiday, for business or other reason. As such, and other things being equal, regions that have transit corridors or regions with high numbers of visitors may well experience a higher incidence of injuries and fatalities.
There were 20 NUTS level 2 regions where the number of road fatalities was at least 100 deaths per million inhabitants in 2019 (as shown by the darkest orange shade in Map 2). Several of these regions were in clusters, for example, in north-eastern Bulgaria and Romania, southern Belgium, central Poland, or southern Portugal. Several others were island regions, namely Notio Aigaio (Greece), Guadeloupe (France), Região Autónoma da Madeira (Portugal) and Åland (Finland). The highest incidence rates for road fatalities in 2019 were recorded in Prov. Luxembourg (Belgium; 171 road fatalities per million inhabitants), Região Autónoma da Madeira (Portugal; 165) and Alentejo (Portugal; 156).
Wien (Austria) had the lowest regional incidence of fatal road accidents in 2019
There were 25 regions across the EU where the incidence of road fatalities was less than 30 deaths per million inhabitants in 2019 (as shown by the darkest blue shade in Map 2). The lowest incidence rate was recorded in Wien, the Austrian capital region, where there were 6 road accident deaths per million inhabitants in 2019. Most regions with relatively low fatality rates were predominantly urban areas. The next lowest ratios were recorded in the capital regions of Sweden and Germany.
Figure 3 shows the development in the incidence of fatal road accidents for the most recent 10-year period: the figure shows this development for the EU as well as for the five NUTS level 2 regions with the highest incidence in 2019. As can be seen, the incidence of fatal road accidents in individual regions can be quite volatile, especially in smaller regions where the absolute number of fatalities is small. For example, in the Região Autónoma da Madeira the number of deaths per million inhabitants was close to the EU average — sometimes just above, sometimes just below — in all years from 2009 to 2018, but jumped in 2019 to record the second highest incidence among all regions in the EU. The underlying number of deaths ranged from 9 to 19 between 2009 and 2018, but jumped to 42 in 2019, inflated by a single event (a tourist bus crash) that year.
Liguria (Italy) had the highest regional incidence of injuries from road accidents in 2019
Figure 3 extends the analysis of victims of road accidents to include road injuries (note there are no regional data available for the Netherlands, while the latest reference period for Ireland and Spain is 2018). These injuries are diverse in nature and outcome: some victims will fully recover within a relatively short period of time, whereas others may remain permanently disabled. The developments for injuries in road accidents tend to be less volatile than for fatalities, as accidents leading to injuries are generally more common; very small regions, such as the Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta (data are only available for 2009-2018), are exceptions. Several of the larger regions in the lower part of Figure 3 recorded a downward development for the incidence of injuries from road accidents, and this reflected the development observed for the EU as a whole. An exception was the Algarve, where the incidence increased strongly in several recent years (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019), outweighing the decreases recorded in most other years between 2009 and 2019; consequently, the rate in 2019 was higher than it had been in 2009. In 2019, the highest incidence of road accidents in the EU was recorded in the northern Italian region of Liguria (6 482 accidents per million inhabitants).
Liberalisation measures in recent years have led to the growth of low-cost airlines and an expansion of smaller regional airports which are generally less congested and charge lower landing fees than main international airports. Air transport was particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis: the immediate impact of the crisis is not yet visible in the regional air transport statistics as, at the time of writing, data for 2020 are not yet available.
Regional data on passenger air traffic are available for 173 (out of 240) NUTS level 2 regions in the EU; many of the regions for which data are not available do not have airports. The EU region with the largest number of passengers carried in 2019 was the French capital region (Île-de-France), home to Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. The Dutch, Spanish and Italian capital regions had the second, fourth and sixth largest numbers of air passengers, while the highest numbers in non-capital regions were recorded in Darmstadt, Oberbayern (both Germany), Cataluña, Illes Balears, Canarias (all in Spain) and Lombardia (Italy).
Relative to population size, the three regions with the highest numbers of air passengers in 2019 were all island regions: Notio Aigaio (Greece; 35 000 passengers per 1 000 inhabitants), Illes Balears (Spain; 33 000) and Ionia Nisia (Greece; 27 000).
The busiest passenger airport in the EU was Charles de Gaulle (Paris)
Figure 4 presents information relating to the busiest 10 passenger airports in the EU, as measured by the number of passengers carried (arrivals plus departures): the lists of airports are shown separately for domestic (national) traffic, traffic within the EU (intra-EU), and traffic to and from countries outside the EU (extra-EU). In 2019, there were 1.0 billion air passengers carried in the EU; half (50.2 %) of this total represented extra-EU traffic, more than one third (34.3 %) was intra-EU traffic, and the remaining share (15.5 %) was national traffic.
The busiest 10 airports for extra-EU traffic collectively accounted for 44.0 % of the EU total in 2019. The largest was Charles de Gaulle, with 44.0 million passengers carried on extra-EU flights, 8.5 % of the EU total. There were three other airports with more than 20 million passengers carried on extra-EU flights in 2019: Schiphol (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Frankfurt (Germany) and Barajas (Madrid, Spain).
The busiest 10 airports for intra-EU traffic collectively accounted for 61.9 % of the EU total in 2019. The largest was Schiphol, with 32.1 million passengers carried on intra-EU flights, 9.0 % of the EU total. There were five other airports with more than 20 million passengers carried on intra-EU flights in 2019: Frankfurt, Charles de Gaulle, El Prat (Barcelona, Spain) and München (Germany).
The busiest 10 airports for national traffic collectively accounted for 64.0 % of the EU total in 2019. The largest was Barajas, with 16.7 million passengers carried on national flights, 10.4 % of the EU total. There were three other airports with more than 10 million passengers carried on national flights in 2019: El Prat, Orly and Fiumicino (Roma, Italy).
2021 is the European Year of Rail with various events, projects and activities across the EU to highlight the many dimensions of rail transport: the EU’s innovative rail industry, rail’s role in the EU’s culture and heritage, its importance for connecting regions, people and businesses, its part in sustainable tourism, as well as its involvement in the EU’s relations with neighbouring countries.
The regional distribution of railway infrastructure is shaped by specific historical developments, economic developments and the geographical characteristics of regions. For example, several eastern EU Member States have longer rail networks than their western neighbours, reflecting a legacy from the communist or Soviet era when there was often a greater reliance on rail (compared with road) for transporting passengers and goods.
Map 4 presents information on railway density — as measured by the length of railway lines per 1 000 km² of territory. Note that the statistics presented for Denmark, Germany, Lithuania and Makroregion Województwo Mazowieckie (Poland) relate to NUTS level 1 regions, while only national data are available for Austria. In general, the lowest levels of railway density were recorded in peripheral regions of the EU, whereas the highest ratios tended to be in the centre of the EU (where there are more opportunities for establishing a network of connections to surrounding regions). Railway density peaked in a band of regions that ran from the Netherlands and Germany into Czechia.
Looking in more detail, the densest rail networks in the EU in 2019 were recorded in the capital regions of Germany and Czechia: Berlin (698 km/1 000 km²) and Praha (491 km/1 000 km²). Other capital regions that had relatively high ratios of railway density included Budapest (Hungary), Bucureşti-Ilfov (Romania) and Île-de-France (France). These high ratios in capital regions may reflect, among other factors, the relatively small area covered by most capital regions, as well as the presence of (several) mainline terminals/stations from which railway lines tend to radiate outwards. Other than capital regions, railway density was also relatively high — at least 120 km/1 000 km² (as shown by the darkest shade of blue) — in several largely industrial and/or densely-populated regions; these non-capital regions with a high density of railway lines were located exclusively across Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.
At the other end of the range, there was no railway in 18 regions of the EU in 2019. These were predominantly island and/or peripheral regions located in Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Finland; they are shown by the lightest shade of blue in Map 4. The Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia, the Swedish region of Övre Norrland and the Finnish region of Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi had the three lowest railway densities (among those regions with a railway), at less than 15 km/1 000 km².
Source data for figures and maps
Regional transport statistics
Regional transport statistics are collected for a number of transport modes, covering a broad range of indicators, for example, transport infrastructure (the length of transport networks) or equipment rates (the number of vehicles per inhabitant). The other main area of regional transport statistics concerns flows of passenger and freight traffic between, within and through regions, with differences across regions often closely related to the level and structure of their economic activity, their number of inhabitants, or their geographical location in relation to key transport infrastructure (such as road and rail networks, or ports and airports).
The legal basis for road transport statistics is Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road. Regional data on stocks of vehicles (for example, passenger cars) are currently provided on a voluntary basis, as are regional data on road accidents.
The legal basis for air transport statistics is Regulation (EU) No 437/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 February 2003 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air. Regional data for air passenger transport are aggregated from data at the level of main airports.
The legal basis for rail transport statistics is Regulation (EU) 2018/643 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 April 2018 on rail transport statistics. Regional data on rail networks are currently provided on a voluntary basis.
A passenger car is a road motor vehicle intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine persons (including the driver). Included are: a) passenger cars; b) vans designed and used primarily for the transport of passengers; c) taxis; d) hire cars; e) ambulances; f) motor homes; g) special passenger cars (police cars, firefighters’ cars).
Two types of casualties are distinguished: people who are killed (road fatalities) and people who are injured. Road fatalities include persons who are killed immediately in a traffic accident or who die within 30 days as a result of an injury sustained in a road accident; these statistics exclude suicides. An injured person is any person who, as result of an injury sustained in a road accident, was not killed immediately or did not die within 30 days, but sustained an injury, normally needing medical treatment; these statistics exclude attempted suicides. Persons with lesser wounds, such as minor cuts or bruises, are not normally recorded as injured persons.
Air passengers carried are all passengers on national and international flights. Air passengers carried relate to all passengers on a particular flight, counted once only and not repeatedly on each individual stage of that flight. Air passengers include all revenue and non-revenue passengers whose journeys begin or terminate at the reporting airport, as well as transfer passengers joining or leaving a flight at the reporting airport; direct transit passengers are excluded from the statistics for the airports through which they transit. Information is collected for arrivals and for departures. When combining data for individual airports to produce totals for geographic areas (such as regional, national or EU totals), when a flight starts and finishes within the same area double counting (at departure and arrival) is avoided by taking into account only departure declarations.
An airport is defined as an area of land or water (including any buildings, installations and equipment) intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure and surface movement of aircraft and open for commercial air transport operations.
A railway line is a line of transportation exclusively for the use of railway vehicles and maintained for running trains. It consists of a pair of rails over which rail borne vehicles can run maintained by an infrastructure manager. Metro, tram and light rail urban lines are excluded. Within the EU, the cumulative length of railway lines excludes: lines solely used for operating touristic trains and heritage trains; lines constructed solely to serve mines, forests or other industrial or agricultural installations and which are not open to public traffic; private lines closed to public traffic and functionally separated networks; private lines used for own freight transport activities.
The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport is responsible for developing transport policy within the EU. Its remit is to ensure mobility in a single European transport area, integrating the needs of the population and the economy at large, while minimising adverse environmental effects. It is hoped that the promotion of more efficient and interconnected transport networks in the EU will, among other benefits, lead to advanced mobility, carbon reductions, improved competitiveness and productivity gains. Policy initiatives within the transport domain touch on everyday lives. For example, the European Commission has proposed legislation relating to:
- the protection of passenger rights;
- security measures, such as a list of airlines banned from EU skies;
- road safety measures to reduce road fatalities and serious road accidents;
- funding to deliver a modern trans-European transport network (TEN-T) with multimodal management systems that facilitate the mobility of goods and passengers across the EU;
- a range of policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by delivering sustainable transport.
During 2021, the European Commission plans an evaluation of the legislation on passenger rights. Among other issues, the lessons to be learned from how passenger rights were handled during the COVID-19 pandemic are to be considered. In March 2011, the European Commission adopted the White Paper Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area — Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system (COM(2011) 144 final). It contains 40 initiatives designed to help build a competitive transport system in the EU and also sets a range of environmental goals to be achieved by 2050.
The European Commission’s jobs, growth and investment package, adopted in 2014, highlighted a range of infrastructure projects. This focus on smart and sustainable transport is continued in the European Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024 and the recovery plan for Europe.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the EU funding instrument for strategic investment in transport, energy and digital infrastructure. In the transport sector, CEF is dedicated to the implementation of the TEN-T and aims at supporting investments in cross-border connections, missing links as well as promoting sustainability and digitalisation. As part of the European fund for strategic investments, EUR 11.4 billion (in 2018 prices) have been budgeted in the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 for the transport part of the CEF.
Specific actions that the European Commission intends to put forward in the second half of 2021 include revisions of the regulation on the trans-European transport network and of the directive on intelligent transport systems.
The European Commission has also enacted legislation in order to promote a safer, more connected and cleaner mobility system in the EU — Europe on the move. The objective is to promote safer traffic, less polluting vehicles and more advanced technological solutions through an integrated policy for future road safety, emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, an action plan for developing and manufacturing batteries for use in transport vehicles, as well as a strategy for connected and automated mobility. Specifically, towards the end of 2021 the Commission intends to take initiatives concerning the development of post-Euro 6/VI emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses.
The EU has a long term strategic goal for road safety: Vision Zero (in other words, no deaths and serious injuries on European roads by 2050). In order to achieve this, the European Commission provided proposals for an EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 — Next steps towards “Vision Zero” (SWD(2019) 283 final) in June 2019. The proposals are designed to underpin a 50 % reduction in fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 through monitoring indicators such as vehicle safety, the seat belt wearing rate, speed compliance and post-crash care.
Direct access to
- Transport, see:
- Regional transport statistics (t_tran_r)
- Regional transport statistics (t_reg_tran)
- Transport, see:
- Multimodal data (tran)
- Regional transport statistics (tran_r)
- Victims in road accidents by NUTS 2 regions (tran_r_acci)
- Regional transport statistics (tran_r)
- Railway transport (rail)
- Railway transport infrastructure (rail_if)
- Road transport (road)
- Road transport equipment - stock of vehicles (road_eqs)
- Passenger cars, by age (road_eqs_carage)
- Road transport equipment - stock of vehicles (road_eqs)
- Air transport (avia)
- Air transport measurement - traffic data by airports, aircrafts and airlines (avia_tf)
- Airline traffic data by main airport (avia_tf_ala)
- Air transport measurement - traffic data by airports, aircrafts and airlines (avia_tf)
- Regional transport statistics (reg_tran)
- Other regional transport (reg_otran)
Manuals and further methodological information
- Illustrated glossary for transport statistics — 5th edition, 2019
- Methodological manual on territorial typologies — Eurostat — 2018 edition
- Reference manual on regional transport statistics — 2015 edition
- Regional transport statistics (ESMS metadata file — reg_tran_esms)
- Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road
- Regulation (EU) No 437/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 February 2003 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air
- Regulation (EU) 2018/643 of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics (recast)