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Road freight transport in the EU: +7% in 2021 YoY

In 2021, total road freight transport in the EU increased by 7% in terms of tonne-kilometres (tkm) compared with 2020. This shows a recovery from the transport situation in 2020, which was affected by the lockdowns and other measures imposed by many Member States this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This information comes from data on road freight transport published today by Eurostat. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on road freight transport statistics. 

Stacked bar graph: Quarterly road freight transport by type of operation, EU, 2017-2021, in billion tonne-kilometres

The effects on road freight transport of the COVID-related lockdowns and restrictions on cross-border movements can be clearly seen in the quarterly data. The second quarter of the year usually sees the highest number of tkm performed. However, the second quarter of 2020 experienced the height of the restrictive measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, while the third and fourth quarters of 2020 saw road freight transport recovering to levels even higher than before the pandemic.

In 2021, EU road freight transport recorded higher performances than in the previous years, the highest being recorded in the second quarter (496.5 billion tkm; +19% compared with the second quarter of 2020).

Line graph: Road freight transport by distance class, EU, 2017-2021, index based on tonne-kilometres, 2017=100

Furthermore, while freight transport for all distance classes decreased in 2020 compared with 2019, with the exception of transport from 300 to 999 km (+0.1 percentage points), 2021 saw strong increases. These differences ranged from +9.2 pp (for the distance class between 1 000 and 1 999 km) to +5.6 pp (for the distance class of less than 150 km) compared with 2020.


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