In 2019, passengers traveled around 643 billion passenger kilometers on railways in Europe. Worldwide, passengers traveled over three-and-a-half trillion passenger kilometers on railway networks in that year, with Europe representing the second-largest market. In fact, Europeans traveled around 24 to 30 times as much as their American and African counterparts.
How is European rail faring with the global pandemic?
Across Europe, several national rail operators have been driven to seek government aid in order to overcome difficulties onset by the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. In May 2020, France’s Environment and Transport Minister announced that the government would support French rail operator SNCF financially after it reported losses of over two billion euros. Germany’s Deutsche Bahn is similarly expected to receive around five billion euros in financial support from the federal German government, and the public transport network in the UK is to receive a bailout sum of roughly 283 million euros to compensate for losses incurred in 2020. With ticket price inflation forecast in the UK, it remains to be seen how fares across the rest of Europe will be affected by the pandemic.
HS2 Rail project
The UK’s infamous and controversial High-Speed 2 railway project has been given formal approval to proceed after years of deliberation and planning. Trains on these lines could reach up to roughly 400 kilometers per hour and would triple the current passenger capacity across the entire route. Hitachi and Bombardier have both been commissioned to build high-speed trains for these routes. Works to construct the line spanning 225 kilometers from London to metropolises such as Birmingham, Leeds, East Midlands, and Manchester will commence amid Covid-19, under the assumption that HS2 will play a critical role in the recovery of the UK economy – particularly for the construction industry – in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Rail passenger traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in billion passenger kilometers)*
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UIC. (June 29, 2020). Rail passenger traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in billion passenger kilometers)* [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104588/rail-passenger-traffic-europe/
UIC. "Rail passenger traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in billion passenger kilometers)*." Chart. June 29, 2020. Statista. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104588/rail-passenger-traffic-europe/
UIC. (2020). Rail passenger traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in billion passenger kilometers)*. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: May 18, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104588/rail-passenger-traffic-europe/
UIC. "Rail Passenger Traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in Billion Passenger Kilometers)*." Statista, Statista Inc., 29 Jun 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104588/rail-passenger-traffic-europe/
UIC, Rail passenger traffic in Europe from 2012 to 2019 (in billion passenger kilometers)* Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104588/rail-passenger-traffic-europe/ (last visited May 18, 2022)