UIC has recently published the provisional world rail traffic statistics for 2008, based on the monthly statistics provided by its members. These results are thus an indication of the major trends in passenger and freight transport in various regions of the world.
2008 proved to be a positive year overall for passenger transport in Europe. Growth in 2008 was + 3% compared to 2007 in terms of the number of passengers transported, and nearly 4% in passenger-kilometres (number of passengers multiplied by the number of kilometres travelled). Thanks to the opening of a high speed connection between Madrid and Barcelona, RENFE saw its passenger-kilometre results increase by 10%, in spite of a slight decrease in the number of passengers.
In Russia passenger traffic increased by 1%, which partly compensated the decrease recorded in 2007.
Asia’s main rail companies experienced growth all around. In 2008 Japan recorded moderate growth in passenger transport, of around 2.4% (in passenger-kilometres), a growth rate similar to that of previous years. China saw its traffic (in passenger-kilometres) increase by 7%, a slightly lower rate than in previous years, and India’s traffic increased by 11% (compared to 13% in 2007).
In Europe, rail freight transport experienced steady decline throughout 2008, exacerbated from October onwards by the initial effects of the worldwide economic crisis, which affected all transport activities (air, sea, road and rail). For the European railways the year ended with a 5% decrease (in tonne-kilometres) compared to 2007, and all regions are affected.
In the United States, rail freight grew until late October 2008, but the two months that followed cancelled out any earlier increases. North American freight transport ended the year with
– 1,7 % growth.
Asia’s main railways recorded positive results in tonne-kilometres in 2008. However, rail freight growth in China decreased by half to + 3,5%. In India freight traffic increased by 8.4%, a growth rate very close to that of 2007 (+ 9.4%).
2008 was good year for rail freight transport in Russia, where the growth rate was + 5%.