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Transport in Europe


Transport in Europe

E-Road Network over 1990 borders in Europe
Approximate extent of completed motorway network in Europe as of Dec 2012

Transport in Europe provides for the movement needs of over 700 million people[1] and associated freight. The political geography of Europe divides the continent into over 50 sovereign states and territories. This fragmentation, along with increased movement of people since the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have led to the development of international standards and agreements that allow people and freight to cross the borders of Europe, largely with unique levels of freedom and ease.

Road, rail, air and water transportation are all prevalent and important across Europe. Europe was the location of the world's first railways and motorways and is now the location of some of the world's busiest ports and airports. The Schengen Area enables border control-free travel between 26 European countries. Freight transportation has a high level of intermodal compatibility and the European Economic Area allows the free movement of goods across 30 states.


  • Rail transport 1
  • Air transport 2
  • Sea and river transport 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Rail transport

Operational high-speed lines in Europe

Powered rail transport began in England in the early 19th century with the invention of the steam engine. The modern European rail network spans the entire continent and provides passenger and freight movement. There are significant high-speed rail passenger networks such as the TGV in France and the LAV in Spain. The Channel Tunnel connects the United Kingdom with France, Belgium and thus the whole of the European rail system, and is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.[2]

Various methods of rail electrification are used, as well as much unelectrified track. In all European countries, standard gauge is the most important rail gauge except for Russia, Finland and the ex-Soviet states. The European Rail Traffic Management System is an EU initiative to create a Europe-wide standard for train signalling.

Rail infrastructure, freight transport and passenger services are provided by a combination of local and national governments and private companies. Passenger ticketing varies from country to country and service to service. The Eurail Pass is a rail pass for 18 European countries; it is only available for persons who do not live in Europe, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Inter Rail passes allow multi-journey travel around Europe for people living in Europe and surrounding countries.

Air transport

Despite an extensive road and rail network, most long distance travel within Europe is by air. A large tourism industry also attracts many visitors to Europe, most of whom arrive into one of Europe's many large international airports. Heathrow Airport, London is the busiest airport in the world by number of international passengers (third busiest overall). The advent of low cost carriers in recent years has led to a large increase in air travel within Europe. Air transportation is now often the cheapest way of travelling between cities. This increase in air travel has led to problems of airspace overcrowding and environmental concerns. The Single European Sky is one initiative aimed at solving these problems.[3]

Cheap air travel is spurred on by the trend for regional airports levying low fees to market themselves as serving large cities quite far away. Ryanair is especially noted for this, since it primarily flies out of regional airports up to 150 kilometres away from the cities they are said to serve. A primary example of this is the Weeze-Skavsta flight, where Weeze mainly serves the Nijmegen/Kleve area, while Skavsta serves Nyköping/Oxelösund. Ryanair however, markets this flight as Düsseldorf-Stockholm, which are both 80–90 kilometres away from these airports, resulting in up to four hours of ground transportation just to get to and from the airport.

Sea and river transport

The Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands is the largest port in Europe and one of the busiest ports in the world, handling some 440 million metric tons of cargo in 2013.[4] When the associated Europoort industrial area is included, Rotterdam is by certain measurements the world's busiest port. Two thirds of all inland water freight shipping within the E.U., and 40% of containers, pass through the Netherlands.[5]

The English Channel is one of the world's busiest seaways carrying over 400 ships per day[6] between Europe's North Sea and Baltic Sea ports and the rest of the world.

As well as its role in freight movement, sea transport is an important part of Europe's energy supply. Europe is one of the world's major oil tanker discharge destinations. Energy is also supplied to Europe by sea in the form of LNG. The South Hook LNG terminal at Milford Haven, Wales is Europe's largest LNG terminal.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision".  
  2. ^ Seven wonders of the modern world
  3. ^ "The Single European Sky".  
  4. ^ "Port Statistics 2013" (Press release). Rotterdam Port Authority. 1 June 2014. p. 8. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  5. ^ "Seaports - Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency". Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency. c. 2010. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  6. ^ "The Dover Strait".  
  7. ^ "Port awaits liquid gas delivery".  

External links

  • Common Transport Policy and European transport, European Commission.
  • Eurostat – Statistics Explained – all articles on transport
  • Worldwide official website for Eurail Passes (non-European).
  • Worldwide official website for InterRail Passes (European).
  • Railways in Europe (with emphasis on interoperability and border crossings)
  • European waterways
  • Rail Choice, UK provider of a vast number of different railpasses covering Europe, USA, Japan and Australasia.
  • Transport & Mobility Leuven.
  • Trains Europe, An exciting, economic and flexible way to explore Europe.
  • Rail Europe Official site, US distributor of the European Railroads.
  • Britain On Track Official BritRail Pass site, US and Canadian supplier of BritRail and Eurail Passes.
  • ACP Rail International Official site, Offers Eurail passes, BritRail, Amtrak, Japan Rail, Australia rail passes and more.
  • Europa Trenes.
  • The public transport guide, European public transport overview
  •, Information on travelling through Europe
  • Europe Travel Guide, dedicated to all aspects of traveling throughout the 55 European nations
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