Share of Rail Passenger Traffic to Total Rail Traffic

Percent of Rail Passenger Traffic to Total Rail Traffic

Source: The World Bank.

Important differences in the use of rail transportation are observed which is reflective of social preferences in mobility. Rail freight dominates in the United States and Canada while passengers are a residual function. This is mainly related to the geographical scale of their respective rail systems along with a preference for road and air transportation for inter-urban passenger movements. This confers an advantage for the flow of rail freight as it is uninterrupted by passenger flows. Western Europe and Japan have a reverse situation where rail transportation tends to be dominated by passengers. As a result, rail freight flows are often marginalized and constrained to use the system during the night. This is reflected in the performance of rail freight operations in Europe where the average speed is about 18 km/hour and only half of the international combined freight trains are running on time.