Results from a comprehensive study of Europe’s railways have ranked the UK top in growth of modal shift to rail and passenger satisfaction.
The study by the European Commission has compared the rail networks of all 27 European Union member states by 14 different factor.
Rail share of passenger traffic in the UK has increased from 4.6% in 1993 to 7.5% in 2010.
The UK’s government subsidy is lower at €5.1bn (£4.3bn) Euros compared to Germany’s £11.5bn and France’s £9.3bn, but passengers are paying for the recent improvement in the UK’s railway. Ticket prices have risen 34%, compared to the European average of 28% since 2000.
Recorded passenger growth is also significantly higher in the UK at 71% than elsewhere in Europe, between 1995 and 2008.
The UK’s rail network is the fourth largest at 15,700km after Italy (16,400km), France (30,860km) and Germany (37,580km), but only the Netherlands has a more intensely used railway than the UK.
The study has been carried out as part of a wider research programme associated with European proposals designed to increase rail’s share of passenger traffic. Key to the proposals is the creation of a single European ‘railway area’ to encourage greater competition.
Overall, rail’s share has remained largely static at 6% on average in Europe since 1995, compared to private cars’ 73%.