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Eurobarometer: 71% of Europeans in favour of more competition in national and regional rail

European Commission - IP/12/1003   24/09/2012

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL CS ET HU LT LV MT PL SK SL BG RO

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 24 September 2012

Eurobarometer: 71% of Europeans in favour of more competition in national and regional rail

71% of EU citizens support the opening of their national and regional rail systems to competition. The total support is above 60% in all but two Member States (Netherlands and Luxembourg). 78% of EU citizens think that more competition will be good for passengers.

According to a special Eurobarometer survey, less than half of Europeans are satisfied with their railway systems (46%) - although satisfaction has improved since 1997 (41%). The level of satisfaction varies from 67% in Finland to 18% in Bulgaria. Satisfaction is overall quite low in the Member States of central and south-eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece).

For most Europeans, the opening to competition will have a positive influence on ticket prices (72%), quality of services to passengers on the trains (71%), comfort and cleanliness of trains (70%), frequency of trains (68%), punctuality of trains (66%), the way railway companies are managed (63%) and the number of stations or routes which will be served (62%).

The absolute majorities of Europeans expect that more competition in the rail market will be good for individual stakeholders, such us passengers (78%), private rail operators (68%) and employees of rail transport operators (55%).

Finally, 70% of EU citizens wish that competition leads to "no-frills" rail services like those of low-cost airlines and 43% wish the development of premium services (meals, films, newspapers, etc.). Also, almost two-thirds (65%) of Europeans wish for more ways of buying tickets (e.g. online, via smartphones, or on board).

Next steps

In the coming months the European Commission intends to adopt a new package of measures, the so-called 4th railway package, to open domestic passenger rail markets to competition, to reduce the time-to-market of the rolling stock (through a strengthening of the role of European Railways Agency) and to improve the governance of railway infrastructure (to reinforce efficiency of railway operations and improve competition).

Background

Over half of Europeans (55%) use national or regional trains: at least weekly (6%), several times a month (4%), several times a year (19%), or at most once a year (26%). Over four in ten Europeans have never done so (45%).

Slightly over four in ten Europeans (41%) use suburban trains: at least weekly (7%), several times a month (5%), several times a year (13%), or at most once a year (15%). Almost six in ten Europeans have never done so (59%).

Rail passengers’ main reason for travelling by national or regional train is to go on leisure trips (70%); just a few rail passengers mention going to work or class (10%) or business trips (10%).

When Europeans who travel by train never or at most once a year are asked what improvements would encourage them to do so, more than four in ten mention lower prices (43%). Other improvements are cited far less often: better network with more routes or stations (20%), faster journeys (17%), more reliable services (16%), more comfortable and cleaner trains (16%), and more frequent services (14%). Nearly three respondents who never or rarely travel by train spontaneously mentioned that nothing could encourage them to do so (28%).

Almost half of Europeans (46%) are satisfied with the current national and regional rail system in their country. A significant proportion nevertheless answers that they are not satisfied (36%).

The majority of Europeans (71%) support opening the national and regional rail system to competition provided that all operators must meet the same safety standards.

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_399_380_en.htm#388

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)


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