Exploring Recent Long-distance Passenger Travel Trends in Europe

This paper reviews recent trends in long-distance passenger travel in Europe. Its purpose is to explore whether some early signals for peak travel in long-distance transport can be identified and if so, which could be the options for a consistent policy action. For the sake of simplicity, only car and air modes are considered. The analysis is based on previous research conducted for the preparation of the recent report of the European Environment Agency (EEA), “Focusing on environmental pressures from long-distance transport - TERM 2014” (EEA, 2014). Passenger travel demand data at the national level show striking differences among European countries. Beyond the traditional divide between “new” and “old” EU member states, it seems that differences respond to a much richer variety of traits, including the size of the country, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) trends and the characteristics of the population. It is within this complex geographical background that the influence of three traditional key drivers should be explored: population, disposable income and lifestyles. Although there are good arguments to conclude that peaking in long-distance transport demand could be reached in an increasing number of European countries, there are also significant forces to further expand demand. Furthermore, it is worth highlighting that peaking, if materialised, would be happening at levels too high to be compatible with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. The paper concludes that there are positive signs in the recent trends of these drivers indicating that they would not result in additional mobility demand. However, these trends could be neutralised by other factors, such as the strategies of European transport policy makers and operators to foster latent demand and expand their markets. This is illustrated by current strategies of air travel operators and some regional governments to further develop low-cost, regional airport-based services.


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  • Accession Number: 01610470
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2016 8:34AM