Rail transport performance in Europe

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Available languages : English
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Date : 04/08/2020

Developing a new set of regional and territorial accessibility indicators for rail
Hugo Poelman, Lewis Dijkstra and Linde Ackermans


This paper presents a detailed analysis of rail passenger services using a new accessibility framework developed with the International Transport Forum and the OECD and a near-complete collection of Europe-wide rail timetables. This framework compares the population that you reach by train to the nearby population to measure how well the rail system performs. This analysis starts from the 2 million inhabited grid cells of 1 km2 in the EU, EFTA and UK. This detailed information allows us to asses rail services at the national, regional and local level. At the national level, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland have the highest rail transport performance, while Latvia, Lithuania and Romania score lowest. Iceland, Malta and Cyprus do not have any passenger rail services. Cities consistently perform better than towns, suburbs and rural areas in all countries. Some cities, however, score better than others. Large cities with frequent service do well, as do small cities with a fast connection to a nearby large city. Fifty small cities have no rail services during the peak hours. The paper examines average travel time, which includes waiting time, and optimal travel time, which uses the fastest connection and does not include waiting time, to reflect the different type of journeys. It also compares the impact of replacing the short walk to and from the train station with a short bike ride. The bike ride more than doubles the transport performance of the rail system. Given the relatively low cost of provide bicycle infrastructure and promoting active mobility and micro-mobility, including e-bikes and e-scooters, this is likely to be a highly cost-effective way of promoting more rail travel.

This paper uses the same approach as the paper on road transport performance.


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