Tuesday 26 May 2020

Rail traffic trends 2019 for railway members in the UIC Europe Region – Provisional results

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The monthly traffic data for 2018-2019 provided by 24 freight operators and 26 passenger operators, all members of UIC, reveals contrasting trends for the UIC Europe region [1] . Please note that not all railways took part in the survey; therefore, only a partial overview of the railway market is presented here.

Goods transport by rail slowed down in 2019. Unlike RZD in Russia, which showed a stable trend (Figure 1), rail freight transport by companies based in the European Union (EU) was down 4.8%. Companies based in other European countries showed a similar trend, down 6.9% on average. In the case of the latter, freight traffic was reduced throughout the year, on average, while for railways in the EU, the decrease compared to 2018 occurred in the second half on the year, i.e. from June to December, with an accentuation during the last quarter of 2019. This decrease is largely due to weaker results reported by DB-AG (DE) and PKP (PL), linked to economic downturn in rail-related industries in Central Europe [1]. According to quarterly statistics published by Eurostat [2], the slowdown in the EU for 2019 is about 2.3% in comparison with 2018 [2].

Figure 1. The left-hand panel shows monthly freight traffic in millions of tonne.kilometres (t.km) for the years 2018 and 2019. Aggregates of UIC railways members for which data is available are represented by region, such as the EU and “Other Europe”, plus the Russian Railways RZD. The list of railways included in the aggregates is shown in the right-hand panel. Also represented in this bar chart is the individual annual freight traffic in millions of t.km by company and for the years 2018 and 2019. Please note that only some European railways took part in the survey, nevertheless, some additional information can be provided: UZ in Ukraine showed a decrease of 2.4%, as did CFM in Moldova with a decrease of 3%. In the EU, ÖBB (AT) and FS (IT) posted good results, with +9% and +3%, respectively [3].

In contrast, rail passenger transport (Figure 2) continued to grow in Russia (RZD: + 3.1% in 2019 compared to 2018). Companies based in the EU recorded growth of 3.4%, on average, and companies in other European countries grew 21%. This strong growth is mainly induced by new train services departing from Haydarpasa and Halkali in Istanbul and operated by TCDD (TR). Indeed, TCDD has doubled its passenger traffic between 2018 and 2019 (+97%). Both passenger operators in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ŽFBH and ŽRS) showed good results for 2019, as did SBB CFF FFS in Switzerland.

Figure 2. Same as figure 1 but for passenger traffic, i.e. passenger.kilometers (in millions). As with goods transport by rail, please note that some European railways did not take part in the survey. The overview of the European railway market presented here is thus a partial one. Nevertheless, some additional information can be provided: UZ in Ukraine showed a slight decrease of 1% as did CFM in Moldova, with a decrease of 1.5%. In the EU, ÖBB (AT) and FS (IT) showed better results than in 2018, at +1.1% and +0.2%, respectively [3].

In the EU and according to Eurostat’s quarterly statistics [2], growth is estimated at about +2% in 2019 compared to 2018. Figure 2 (right-hand panel) shows that most UIC member passenger operators recorded positive results, with an average of +3.4%. The increase in passenger.kilometres was more marked for SNCF (FR) with +5.4%. This is due to relatively weaker results recorded in 2018 on account of a long period of strike action, on the one hand, and due to strong growth in low-cost high-speed services (Ouigo) in 2019, as well as new long-distance service offerings during the summer season and a downward pricing policy for regional services, on the other.

PKP (PL) and ČD (CZ) posted about 5% passenger traffic growth. Growth in the Czech Republic may be explained by the limited capacity of the road network due to saturation and extensive reconstruction works on highways. Inversely, the capacity of passenger rail transport increased, with the introduction of new vehicles and additional trains on upgraded lines, supported by a downward pricing policy implemented by the public authorities. Good results around and above 5% were also reported for VR (FI), CP (PT), SŽ (SI), CFR Călători (RO) and ZSSK (SK).

Railway companies outside of Europe, such as SETRAG in Gabon and KTZ in Kazakhstan, reported good results for freight operations. Positive trends in passenger operations were also noted by Amtrak and TRA in Chinese Taipei.


[1] https://bit.ly/3c3iVmw
[2] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database
[3] UIC Synopsis Editions 2020 (under review)


Thanks to the UIC Statistics Steering Committee, in particular Roman Štěrba (Chair, SZCZ), Gerd Hoppe (DB AG), Sylvain Candot (SNCF Mobilités), Stefan Weigel (SBB CFF FFS) and to all statistics correspondents who provided the data used in this brief note.

UIC Statistics webpage: https://uic.org/support-activities/statistics/

Download UIC data: https://uic-stats.uic.org/select/

[1Russian and Turkish railways are included in the UIC Europe region

[2Eurostat reports statistics by country, while UIC reports statistics by companies, therefore the perimeters are not equivalent.

Contact UIC Statistics department: stat@uic.org

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