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).
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).
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.