European governments have “systematically” shrunk their railways and starved them of funding while pouring money into expanding their road network, a report has found.
The length of motorways in Europe grew 60% between 1995 and 2020 while railways shrank 6.5%, according to research from the German thinktanks Wuppertal Institute and T3 Transportation. For every €1 governments spent building railways, they spent €1.6 building roads.
“This is a political choice,” said Lorelei Limousin, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace, which commissioned the report. “We see the consequences today with the climate, but also with people who have been left without an alternative solution to cars.”
The report found the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK spent €1.5tn (£1.29tn) between 1995 and 2018 to extend their roads – but just €0.93tn (£0.8tn) to extend their rail networks.
In the four years that followed (2018-21), the average gap in investment in rail and road decreased from 66% to 34%. During that time, seven countries invested more in rail than roads – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the UK – while the rest spent more on roads than rail.