Long Distance Mobility in Central Europe: Status Quo - Trends - Future Perspectives

Long Distance Mobility in Central Europe: Status Quo - Trends - Future Perspectives


Tobias Kuhnimhof, Institute for Mobility Research, Roman Frick, INFRAS, Bente Grimm, NIT


The paper presents the status quo and trends of long distance mobility in central Europe (focus on Germany). It uses an innovative multi-survey approach to compile demand figures and expert consultation to identify future trends.


While the mobility in the context of everyday life has recently almost stagnated in central Europe, long distance mobility continues to grow substantially. Against this background, the paper presents the status quo, current trends and future perspectives of long distance mobility in central Europe, with focus on Germany. In speaking of long-distance mobility, we refer to all trips of more than 100 km (one-way).

First, we present figures on the status quo of demand for long distance mobility. We use an innovative approach to compile these demand figures in that we don’t rely on a single survey only. Instead, we add up long distance travel demand for different segments as measured by various surveys, each tailored for specific segments of long distance travel. When adding up travel demand figures we avoid double counting travel that falls into the realm of different surveys. The result of this analysis suggests substantially higher demand for long distance travel than measured with a single survey. This raises questions as to how suitable existing survey instruments are when it comes to monitoring the development of this dynamic segment of travel.

Second, we present current trends and mid-term future perspectives for long distance travel demand per segment. This assessment is based on empirical data, literature review and expert consultation. The demand for long distance mobility is likely to grow further in the mid-term future. Specifically business trips and long trips in the context of everyday life, e.g. long-distance commuting, are characterized by growth. Important driving factors for this development are the demographic development, the evolution of settlement patterns, as well as continued globalization and job specialization. Taken together, particularly long distance mobility with a distance range of up to a couple of hundred kilometers is characterized by growth, promoting long distance ground transportation.

In contrast, holiday trips - accounting for a third of the long distance passenger mileage and thus representing the largest segment of long distance mobility by Germans – have almost stagnated with regard to the number of journeys, the average trip distance, and the use of transport modes. Against the background of the modest demographic and economic dynamics in central Europe, holiday travel demand will only grow little in the next years if at all. Also the share of holiday journeys by air travel has not grown in the last few years. In contrast, air traffic in Germany continues to grow; this, however, is increasingly driven by growing air travel by passengers from other regions of the world.


Association for European Transport