Territorial connectivity by road, rail and airports, 2010


Observations for policy

Increasing accessibility is one of the key challenges to overcome if there is to be greater integration between Europe and its neighbourhoods. Certain challenges need to be addressed, this entails the number of transport connections between Europe and its neighbourhoods as well as increasing and securing the quality and capacity of these transport infrastructures.

Transport connections are important for gateways of flows of goods and people. A large number of transport connections, with good quality and enough capacity to Europe’s neighbourhoods increases, for example, the market for European goods. Borders within Europe and between Europe and its neighbourhood remain barriers for transport and hamper development.

Policy context

European countries are connected with their neighbourhoods via flows of goods and people. The European neighbourhoods are an important market for European goods and vice versa. Many regions in Europe’s neighbourhoods are both growing in terms of population and economy. This makes these regions interesting for trade due to a large labour market and as market for European products. Well-developed transport connections are therefore of relevance not only connecting European Member States but also beyond Europe’s borders. Europe invests inter alia through its Cohesion Policy in key network infrastructures and promotes removing bottlenecks.

The Common Transport Policy aims at developing competitive modes of transport that help reducing the peripheral nature of regions as well as the development of lagging behind regions with poor endowments of transport networks and high transport costs.

Map interpretation

The map shows high territorial connectivity to road, rail and airports of locations in the centre of Europe. The travel time to the nearest airport, main road or train station is much higher in the outermost regions and in many parts of Europe’s neighbourhoods.

The territorial connectivity reflects in general population density in Europe and its neighbourhoods. However, also the density of the transport network is of relevance. The density of main transport links is higher in Europe than in its neighbourhoods.

Low connectivity in the North can be explained due to long distances and physical barriers. Due to a less dense network of railways and roads air transport becomes more important. Air transport connects the peripheral areas with the largest urban centres in the region.

The density of the transport network in the Eastern Neighbourhood is also rather low, reflecting low density outside the metropolitan areas such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Lower territorial connectivity is observed in the other parts of Russia, Eastern Ukraine and in the Caucasus.

The Southern neighbourhoods are characterised by well connected coastal areas and peripheral areas with very limited main transport connections. This can be seen in Northern Africa as well as in the countries in the Middle East.

Looking more closely to cross-border connections and domestic territorial connectivity it becomes apparent that urban areas both in Europe as well as in the neighbourhoods show the lowest travel times to main transport infrastructure. Northwest and Central European regions have the most cross-border connections. Lower territorial connectivity in South Eastern European locations can be explained with less cross-border connections. The main roads between Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania and the neighbouring EU Member States are often not connected and there are only limited cross-border railway connections. The number, quality and capacity of cross-border connections between the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods is even more limited.

Concepts and methods

Territorial connectivity is displayed as the accessing time from any point of the territory to the main transportation network. The travel time in minutes to the nearest main road, railway station or airport is calculated for each grid cell of five by five km. This indicator is called ICON. The indicator makes use of the relative passenger traffic as weight. Thus, a location which is much nearer to a road, station or airport with high passenger counts, will measure with a much higher connectivity in time. The map shows larger airports, more than two million passengers per year, as triangles.