Railway passenger transport statistics - quarterly and annual data

From Statistics Explained

Data from November 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article takes a look at recent annual and quarterly statistics on rail passenger transport in the European Union (EU). After a period of sustained growth, rail transport performance in passenger-kilometres started to be affected by the economic crisis at the beginning of 2009. Rail passenger transport nevertheless remained less affected than rail freight transport, and registered a recovery from 2010 onwards.

Figure 1: Quarterly evolution of rail passenger transport performance at EU-28 level
(million passenger-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_quartal)
Table 1: Quarterly evolution of rail passenger transport performance
(million passenger-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_quartal)
Table 2: Evolution of rail passenger transport between 2011 and 2012
(thousand passengers)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_typepas) (annual data) (rail_pa_quartal) (quarterly data)

Main statistical findings

Passenger transport performance by rail continued to slowly recover in 2012

Based on quarterly figures, rail passenger transport performance at EU-28 level continued to increase by around 9 billion passenger-kilometres between 2011 and 2012 (+2.2 %).

This increase was relatively well distributed over the year, with year-to-year rises in rail passenger transport performance in the four quarters of 2012 (+2.6 %, +1.0 %, +2.0 % and +3.3 % respectively for the four quarters of 2012 compared to the corresponding quarters of the previous year).

In 2012, rail transport remained affected by the economic crisis

Although rail passenger transport at EU-28 level has recorded an increase in 2012 compared to 2011, many Member States have recorded a decrease over the same period. Within the European Union, apart from the drop observed in Croatia for methodological reasons (see section “Country-specific notes - country characteristics of data availability”), the highest decrease can be observed in Portugal (-11.4 %), followed by Bulgaria (-9.5 %). In contrast, the total number of rail passengers in Austria and Luxembourg increased by 8.6 % and 8.2 % respectively. The United Kingdom has confirmed its ascendant trend in 2012 with an increase of 5.5 %, following a rise of 7.4 % in 2010 and 7.2 % in 2011.

Outside the EU-28, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey have recorded a high decrease in rail passenger transport in 2012 (-28.7% and -18.0% respectively), contrasting with the 2.6 % rise recorded in Norway over the same period.

Focusing on the share between national and international transport, national transport is always predominant, representing around 90 % or more of the total transport for each country in 2012. The only exception is Luxembourg, where international transport represented 29 % of the total passenger transport by rail.

Data sources and availability

Data availability

The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat’s rail transport database. It includes rail transport statistics from the Member States, collected according to Regulation 91/2003. The transport of passengers by metro, tram and/or light rail is excluded. The data presented are included in Eurostat’s dissemination database (reference tables are provided under each table and graph).

Country-specific notes - country characteristics of data availability (see country codes)

  • BG 2008 data are confidential and excluded from the calculations in Figure 1
  • HR Breaks in time series between 2011 and 2012 are due to changes in methods of data compilation for passenger rail transport in urban and suburban areas (urban passenger transport is transport on short distances within city areas that is not performed by metro or light rail but with the same rolling stock as passenger transport in intercity national transport). The calculation of the number of passengers in intercity transport is based on the number of tickets sold but the calculation of the number of passengers in urban transport is based on the number of monthly and annual transportation passes sold for urban and suburban transport. Since 1 July 2011, the co-financing of free transportation has been abolished and calculation of number of passengers in urban transport excluded subsidized tickets (free tickets) for pupils and students and since 1 January of 2012 for certain categories of citizens due to entry into the force of the Decision on social welfare in City of Zagreb that regulates the ability of using free passes for urban transport of passengers
  • CY No railways transport
  • MT No railways transport
  • LI Quarterly data not available; Liechtenstein provides rail transport data under simplified reporting only


The various elements present data collected under the detailed and simplified reporting systems. Simplified reporting is an alternative to normal detailed reporting for undertakings for which the annual total performance of freight transport is less than 500 million tonne-kilometres. Quarterly figures are only collected under detailed reporting.

Figure 1 and Table 1 are based on detailed reporting only (quarterly data) while Table 2 combines both simplified and detailed reporting statistics.

Quarterly data are confidential for Austria (Q1 2010 onwards) and missing for Greece for the reference year 2012. For comparability purposes at EU-28 level, the most recent data available for the corresponding quarter have been used to estimate the quarterly EU totals in Figure 1.

Railway lines in Liechtenstein are operated by ÖBB (Austria) and statistics are reported by Austrian authorities under simplified reporting.


 : not available
- not applicable
0 actual zero or very negligible transport
c confidential data


The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU rail transport statistics Regulation 91/2003 on rail transport statistics.

The basic legal act was amended by Commission Regulation 1192/2003 on rail transport statistics.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Railway transport (t_rail)
Rail transport of passengers (ttr00015)


Railway transport (rail)
Railway transport measurement - passengers (rail_pa)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Other information