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Transport industry in Portugal – statistics & facts

Located on the westernmost point of mainland Europe, Portugal boasts a transport industry that generally not only generates several thousands of jobs but also contributes several billion euros toward its overall gross domestic product. In fact, Portugal’s air transport industry alone contributes to just under seven percent of the country’s GDP.

Portugal: a dark horse in Europe?

Portugal fares well in terms of its global ranking regarding national transport infrastructure: its quality of roads ranks eighth in the world; the country ranks twenty-first globally in terms of the quality of its infrastructure, and it is now among the global top-ten performers in terms of international shipments. Its capital city Lisbon is furthermore one of the world’s leading cities in terms of its modal diversity, with options for passengers to travel by bus, commuter rail, light rail (including metro and tram), bike, and ship.

The country’s most popular airports include Lisbon, Porto, and Faro, welcoming tourists predominantly from the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, and Brazil. Its national flag carrier airline TAP has seen rising numbers in passengers over the last decade, with the exception of 2020, where Covid-19 has affected passenger numbers and services dramatically. The country’s incumbent national state-owned railway service Comboios de Portugal, which transports between 120 and 150 million passengers per year, offers national routes as well as international routes to Spain and France. Portugal nevertheless falls behind the EU average when it comes to further developing its TEN-T high-speed rail and inland waterways core network – rail connections with Spain, for instance, are still an issue due to lack of unity regarding signaling technologies and network electrification.

The country’s revenue from freight haulage has remained relatively stable over the past years, particularly when it comes to rail, road, airport, and seaport infrastructures – even though investment in certain transport segments has fluctuated considerably in recent years. Portugal is home to the Atlantic TEN-T network corridor, which connects with Spain via the Mediterranean network and also with the North Sea-Mediterranean and Rhine-Alpine rail networks in central Europe. These rail freight corridors, among others, are considered essential to maintaining the EU’s competitiveness and wealth.

Looking to the future

Portugal plans to pump around 22 million euros of state and external funds in national transport, energy, and environmental projects as part of its National Investment Program 2030 (NPI). The transport industry is set to receive the largest share of over 50 percent of the total investment amount for various national rail, road, maritime, and airport projects.

The initiative seeks to optimize capacity, passenger demand, and speed on the Portuguese rail network. This way, traffic congestion and CO2 emissions released from road freight transportation are expected to decline in an effort to decarbonize the industry on a national level. Furthermore, metropolitan areas in Lisbon and Porto are set to become further target sites of decarbonization, as the cities are both set to receive an allocation of the NPI funds for their mobility and transport sectors.


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