Dutch railways used intensively

04/03/2008 15:00

The Netherlands has one of the shortest railway networks in western Europe. Together with Belgium and the United Kingdom, it does have the largest share of multiple track railway, however. The railway system in the Netherlands is one of the busiest in Europe.

Slight increase in total track length

The total length of rail track in the Netherlands has increased by 5 percent since 1982, to nearly 3 thousand kilometres. The increase was caused by completion of the Flevolijn (1987/1988) and more recently the Betuweroute (2007). The share of multiple track railways has also increased gradually, by 23 percent.

Length of railway network

Length of railway network

Dutch railway network short and wide

The Netherlands has one of the shortest railway networks in western Europe. Per capita it even has the shortest length of track in the European Union. Alongside Belgium and the United Kingdom, the Netherlands does have the largest share of multiple track railways.

Single and multiple track railways, 2005

Single and multiple track railways, 2005

Intensive use

No less than 93 percent of all train kilometres in the Netherlands are accounted for by passenger trains. The remaining 7 percent is accounted for by goods transport. The averages for Europe are 79 and 21 percent respectively. The intensive use of the Dutch railway system is reflected in the large volume of passenger transport per kilometre of track. In the Netherlands this is 5 million passenger-kilometres, the EU average is 1.8 million.

Because the Netherlands has a relatively large share of multiple track railways, trains can pass each other more easily, thus generating a high volume of transport per kilometre of track.

Rail use, 2005

Rail use, 2005

Estonia leader in goods transport

Estonia has a noticeable lead in rail utilisation by goods trains. In Estonia 65 percent of all rail transport is accounted for by goods transport. Moreover Estonian goods trains are much longer and heavier. The average weight transported by train is more than three times that in the Netherlands, where heavy goods such as oil, coal and ore are more often transported on inland waterways.

Pascal Ramaekers and Hans Visser