Transport in Europe
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 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 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 26 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. Of all tonne-kilometres transported in 2016, 51% were by road, 33% by sea, 12% by rail, 4% by inland waterways, and 0.1% by air.
Powered rail transport began in England in the early 19th century with the invention of the speed train. The modern European rail network spans the entire continent and provides movement of passengers and freight. 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 and thus the whole of the European rail system, and it was called one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Various method of rail electrification are used as well as much unelectrified track. Standard gauge is widespread in Central and Western Europe, Russian gauge predominates in parts of Eastern Europe, and mainline services on the Iberian Peninsula and the island of Ireland use the rarer Iberian gauge and Irish gauge, respectively. 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, a rail pass for 18 European countries, is available only for persons who do not live in Europe, Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia. Inter Rail passes allow multi-journey travel around Europe for people living in Europe and surrounding countries.
Many cities across Europe have a rapid transit system, commonly referred to as a metro, which is an electric railway. The world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, was opened in London in 1863. It is now part of London's rapid transit system that referred to as the London Underground, the longest such system in Europe. After London, the largest European metro systems by track length are in Moscow, Madrid and Paris.
In the early 2010s, many countries in Europe decided to liberalise the market for medium/long distance coach (intercity bus) transportation. This move has already proven to be helping both the economies and the Europeans.
The bus is the cheapest method of transportation and slower than the train in countries that have high-speed rail. However, many companies have made adjustments so that their coach fleets can be as comfortable as trains. Toilets and power have been added to the coaches, and some are equipped with WiFi.
In order to make coach transport even easier and even cheaper, platforms for comparison have been created. Web platforms like SoBus and GetByBus have integrated the booking process without redirection to the transport company's website.
Despite an extensive road and rail network, 43% of international travel within the EU was by air in 2013. Air travel is particularly important for peripheral nations such as Spain and Greece and island nations such as Malta and Cyprus, where a large majority of border crossings are 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 – major hubs include London Heathrow, Istanbul, Paris-Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam Schiphol. The advent of low cost carriers in recent years[when?] 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.
Within the European Union, the complete freedoms of the air and the world's most extensive cabotage agreements allow budget airlines to operate freely across the EU. 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 cities they are 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 and one of the busiest ports in the world, handling some 440 million metric tons of cargo in 2013. When the associated Europoort industrial area is included, Rotterdam is by certain measurements the world's busiest port. Two thirds of all inland water freight shipping within the E.U., and 40% of containers, pass through the Netherlands. Other large ports are the Port of Hamburg in Germany and the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. They are all a part of the so-called "Northern Range".
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.
- Transport in the European Union
- Directorate-General for Energy and Transport
- Emission standard
- Energy in the European Union
- Environment in the European Union
- European Aviation Safety Agency
- European Car of the Year
- European Climate Change Programme
- European Common Aviation Area
- European Federation for Transport and Environment
- European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL)
- European vehicle registration plates
- International E-road network
- Momo car-sharing
- The ROADEX Project
- Trans-European Networks
- UNECE vehicle standards.
- Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of transport.
- ACP Rail International
- Southeast Europe Transport Community
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