In line with their market monitoring role, the regulatory bodies of IRG-Rail conducted a focus analysis to examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the European rail sector in 2020.
The pandemic and its aftermath generally led to declines in rail transport demand in 2020, some of which were severe. For example, the decline in annual passenger kilometres averaged 48 percent in Europe, with the second and fourth quarters showing particularly large declines. With minus seven percent in total net ton kilometres, the balance of rail freight transport was comparatively less dramatic, and in the fourth quarter it even grew again slightly compared to the same quarter in 2019. There were also declines on the supply side, with eight percent fewer passenger train trips compared to six percent fewer freight train trips. In contrast, as a result of the decrease in rail supply, network utilization eased and punctuality increased in all quarters of 2020 for both passenger and freight traffic.
The losses suffered by the rail companies have been cushioned by temporary and, in some cases, permanent measures. The report also provides a clear comparison of countries with regard to the countermeasures taken.
The report and the figures it presents allow a comparison of the various relief measures taken across Europe in response to the consequences of Covid-19 in the rail sector. In this way, IRG-Rail provides decision-makers with an important tool, as the report may serve as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of these measures.