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The coronavirus pandemic also caused serious impacts on the entire European rail sector in the first quarter of 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic also caused serious impacts on the entire European rail sector in the first quarter of 2021.
photo: Archives/Railway
15 / 05 / 2021

According to the latest analysis, published by the Covid Impact Tracker and the Community of European Railways (CER) and infrastructure companies, the coronavirus pandemic still has a strong impact on the entire railway sector in the European sector, and the impact is also reflected in first quarter 2021.

After a survey of its members, CER said passenger transport stagnated at about half of pre-crisis levels, while the decline in freight revenues worsened from -3% in December 2020 to -10% in Q1 2021. Infrastructure managers also saw losses increase from -8% in summer 2020 to -13% in Q1 2021.

Passenger traffic


After a little relief in the summer of 2020, passenger losses started to get worse in October, and in November 2020 they decreased year-on-year to -51%. Losses remained around -51% in the four months to March 2021, representing income losses of almost €600 million/week in all EU Member States.

Freight traffic

While freight transport revenues were "almost normal" in December, in the decrease of 3% in a year-on-year comparison, CER found that they then fell to -10%, where they stayed until March 2021. However, freight transport losses are about 5% lower than at the start of the coronavirus crisis in the first half of 2020. In March 2021, average losses across the EU were more than €30 million/week.


Infrastructure managers were first included in the CER Covid tracker in April. The association found a 13% drop in infrastructure manager‘s revenues since the beginning of 2021, with losses in Q1 2021 almost as high as in the entire first half of 2020. CER believes that not only the coronavirus epidemic but other indirect effects are behind the decline.

Targeted support

CER stated that targeted state and European support is urgently needed to mitigate the negative impact of the covid-19 outbreak and to ensure the recovery of the rail sector in order to meet the demand for future growth across the sector.

"Achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal will require a significant transition to rail," executive director Alberto Mazzola emphasized on May 4. "Railways can support both reconstruction and sustainable transition across Europe, but we must ensure that they will come out of the current crisis strong enough.

"Substantial compensation for current losses, as well as a reduction in fees to operators, as well as compensation to infrastructure managers for related lost revenues, is necessary to help the sector overcome this difficult period."


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