Ireland on track with road growth - but not with rail
Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30
Ireland clocked up the biggest motorway expansion anywhere in Europe in the period from 2000 to 2012 - with around 800km added to the road network here.
However, this country has the lowest density of electric railways across any of the 28 European Union member states.
Countries like Ireland, Spain and Romania saw significant infrastructural expansion over the past decade and a half, but Europe's established industrial heartlands remain the regions best served by transport links.
Data from the EU's statistics agency Eurostat shows that in absolute terms the 560km of new motorway built in Ireland's Southern and Eastern regions was the biggest increase anywhere in the EU between 2000 and 2012.
In reality the bulk of that work was completed before the economic crash in 2008.
The most significant motorway expansion between 2000 and 2012 took place in regions of Ireland, Spain, France and Hungary, according to the figures.
In relative terms, the most significant motorway expansion between 2000 and 2012 took place in the Romanian region of Sud-Est, though the number of kilometres laid was relatively small.
Relative to the local road network the expansion in the Border, Midland and Western region of Ireland was the second biggest, along with Lódzkie in Poland.
In those three regions very strong growth rates overwhelmingly are a reflection of the very limited motorway networks in 2000.
Across the European Union the motorway network is unsurprisingly most dense in the most heavily urbanised regions - including districts close to major cities like Vienna, Amsterdam, Madrid, Berlin and Paris.
In Britain traditional industrial heartlands including the region around Manchester, the English midlands as well as areas close to London remain the most heavily served by motorways.
Belgium, Netherlands, northern France and north Germany are deeply emeshed in a web of major transport routes, including road, rail and industrial waterways and ports.
Ireland remains relatively poorly served by major roads, compared to much of Europe, despite the expansion of the motorway network in the 2000s. No Irish region has more than 20km of motorway per 1,000km of road.
Looking across Europe, the density of railway networks is highest in the Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Poland, but varies hugely across the continent.
While Dart and Luas light rail services in Dublin are powered by electricity, Ireland has the lowest density of electrical railways in the EU.
Most Irish rail travel is fuelled by diesel. In Sweden, which like Ireland has a relatively low population density, 74pc of all rail routes are powered by electricity.