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24 July 2019

Modal shift in Europe

Today, the TRAN Study "Modal Shift in European Transport – a way forward" requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism was presented in Brussels. 

The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the progress and potential of modal shift from road to more sustainable transport modes, with respect to the policy objectives set in the 2011 White Paper on transport. The study focuses both on passenger and freight transport, highlighting main barriers and factors that are hampering a more effective modal shift at EU level, and providing policy recommendations for the way forward.


The purpose of the study was to undertake an up-to-date and thorough analysis of the progress, potential and further challenges for the EU in transferring part of road transport to more sustainable modes, as set out in the 2011 White Paper on transport. This strategy set an ambitious goal of reducing by 60% greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050 compared to the level of these emissions in 1990. To achieve this, overall objectives regarding modal shift have been set, such as a 30% shift of EU road freight over 300 km to more sustainable modes of transport (i.e. rail and waterborne transport) by 2030 (and more than 50% by 2050). Additionally, the 2011 White Paper on transport proposes that by 2050, the majority of medium‐distance passenger transport should be by rail, and that by the same year a European high speed rail network should have been completed. This study particularly focused on the timeframe 2011-2018, in order to better evaluate whether the policies and measures that have been implemented and which are currently in force are delivering the expected outcomes.


The study offers an in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues and trends relating to passenger and freight transport, which are likely to impact and influence modal shift. Starting from the most recent data and statistics available from international and European sources, the study provides a clear overview and robust evidence about the current situation and trends regarding modal shift. The study pays particular attention to several factors (i.e. access charges, interoperability, EU financing) that may influence the cost of different transport modes and therefore modal choice. The study is intended to support the Members of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) of the European Parliament on what could be done, in particular at the EU policy level, to further support the process and provide useful insights and recommendations for possible further initiatives.

Read more about findings, main conclusions and recommendations:

Download Study:



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