February 14, 2012

European freight and passenger traffic increases

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EUROPEAN railfreight traffic levels continued to show signs of recovery in the first three quarters of 2011 following the worldwide economic crisis of 2008-09. Passenger ridership was also slightly up on the same period in 2010, according to figures compiled by the Community of European Railway and infrastructure Companies (CER).

Freight traffic increased by 4% year-on-year during the third quarter of 2010 and 6% during the first nine months of the year. This was in line with European industrial production, which rose 3.6% during the third quarter. Volumes in the 15 original members of the European Union rose by 4.4% during the first nine months while the recovery followed at a similar pace in central and eastern Europe where tonne-km increased by 3.3%. However, these volumes remain 8.1% below the pre-crisis level of the third quarter of 2008 in the 15 original EU countries, and 11.3% in Central and Eastern Europe.

Passenger-km in the 15 EU countries was up slightly by 0.1% during the third quarter, however, traffic was down by 0.4% during the first nine months due to the boost to traffic experienced during the Icelandic ash cloud crisis in the second quarter of 2010. Traffic was up in central and eastern Europe by 2% in the third quarter of 2011, and 1% during the first nine months of the year, the first increase in passenger traffic in this region since the economic crisis struck.

"The recovery of the railfreight sector across Europe and the positive growth in rail passenger transport for two quarters in Central and Eastern Europe is an encouraging development," says Mr Libor Lochman, CER executive director. "It shows that the railways are on the right track. At the same time, the sector has to keep up this performance despite the economically tough times."

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