City network daily accessibility, 2009


Observations for policy

Places that can be reached for day-return business trips have an advantage in today’s economy. The network of such places in Europe is showing a clear centre-periphery pattern with cities places in the core of the EU territory having the competitive advantage. Air is the prime transport more for inter-metropolitan business trips. The national orientations of rail networks make high speed less attractive than it could be for cross-border travel.

Policy context

The higher population density of the European core and the short distances between major urban areas in this part of Europe are an economic asset, also in global terms. This structure creates a large labour and consumer market and confers on a transnational scale some of the urbanisation advantages of agglomeration economies. It has almost certainly facilitated some of the company strategies of mergers and consolidation to increase their European and global competitiveness. Consequently the possibilities for one-day business-trips are important for smart growth advocated by the Europe 2020 Strategy. This is to a certain extent reflected in the proposed investment priorities for the future Structural Funds and relates to the idea of polycentric development advocated by the Territorial Agenda 2020.

Map interpretation

The map shows the possibilities for one-day business trips by rail and air from selected urban regions.

The connections (red lines) highlight the importance to national inter-urban connections within some countries, for example, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK. However, in much of the European core, rail also provides a viable international business option as shown by the density of red lines linking cities in Germany, France and Benelux. The connectivity by a combination of rail and air is presented in pink. It is of particular importance for metropolitan regions at the fringe of the core of Europe, such as the ├śresund region, various major cities in the UK, or Prague. The blue lines, showing access by air links only, reveal the huge dependence of peripheral Europe on its air connections to reach international destinations. The Iberian peninsula, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Ireland and Northern Ireland and also Sicily are only able for a day trip to connect to the core through an airport. There are some key hubs evident for such countries: Madrid, Copenhagen, Warsaw and Rome in particular. In more peripheral countries and regions, day return business trips to foreign cities are simply not possible.

Concepts and methods

A one-day trip means at least 6 hours available at the destination while leaving home after 5am and being back home before 11pm on the same day. The transport modes considered for this map are rail, air or a combination of rail and air, based on actual timetables.