Transport in Europe

Transport in Europe

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 industrial revolution, has led to a high level of cooperation between European countries in developing and maintaining transport networks. Supranational and intergovernmental organisations such as the European Union (EU), Council of Europe and OSCE 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 25 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

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.

Road traffic

In the UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, traffic drives on the left. In the rest of Europe, traffic mainly drives on the right with a few rare exceptions for certain stretches of motorway or a small country road. Toll roads are common in some European countries with the Vignette a particular notable road tax. The International E-road network is an international road numbering system covering major highways in Europe, but most road management and classification takes place at a local or national level.

Environmental improvements since 1960 has made the Pollutants Standard Index in Europe low, In 2011 was the lowest in history, it reaches 20 (good)

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 city it has 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[4] and one of the busiest ports in the world, handling over 400 million metric tons of cargo in 2008. When the associated Europoort industrial area is included, Rotterdam is by certain measurements the world's busiest port.

The English Channel is one of the world's busiest seaways carrying over 400 ships per day[5] 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.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2009-03-11. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Seven wonders of the modern world
  3. ^ "The Single European Sky". European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Port Statistics". Port of Rotterdam. May 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ "The Dover Strait". Maritime and Coastguard Agency. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  6. ^ "Port awaits liquid gas delivery". BBC News. 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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