Source: some data from Living Planet Report, 2006 and Summary result of second Eurostat questionnaire on CFC on public infrastructure, DOC.CFC 15, Eurostat, 2003.
The lifespan of a transport asset is the approximate number of years over which it is expected to perform under normal operating conditions while receiving regular maintenance (average lifespan). The lifespan is an approximate figure because of the various construction materials, techniques used, and operating conditions since higher engineering requirements may further extend the lifespan (optimum lifespan). For complex transport infrastructures, such as a port or an airport, lifespan considerations are nuanced by the respective lifespans of components such as piers, runways, crane equipment, and individual buildings (e.g. terminals, warehouses). All of these facilities can be maintained and upgraded separately.
Among the major transport assets, the automobile has the shortest lifespan in the range of 8 to 10 years, depending on the level of usage and the operating environment. However, there is evidence that the lifespan of cars is increasing due to technical improvements. A properly maintained jet plane can easily last 20 years, with some lasting beyond 30 years (ending their service life as cargo planes). Rail lines can last for decades, if not a century and a half (depending on the construction materials used), but require constant and capital intensive maintenance. Transport investments must thus look closely at the expected lifespan of infrastructure to ensure a proper amortization and match the investment time range with the expected lifespan of the transport asset.