Passenger Rail Market Share Against Air for Inter-City Travel

Passenger Rail Market Share Against Air for Inter City Travel

Source: Data compiled by E. Mitchell.

Note: The data concerns the market share between city pairs for rail versus air only. It does not consider intercity road movements (cars, buses), which can be substantial. N=132.

Travel time is an important component in the choice between rail versus air for intercity travel. A sample of 132 city pairs having rail services underlines a strong association between travel time and market share. The inflection point is around five hours, below which the market share of rail increases substantially. Below three hours, the market share is usually above 70% to the advantage of rail. The introduction of a high speed rail service between a city pair can result in a decline in travel time and a proportional increase in the market share. For instance, high speed rail services between Paris and Lyon were introduced in the early 1980s, resulting in a drop in rail travel time from 4 hours to 2 hours. Correspondingly, the market share of rail versus air went from 40% to 90%.