Rail freight declines by 6% in Hungary during 2023 28/02/24

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Source: https://magyarvasut.hu/hat-szazalekkal-csokkent-tavaly-a-vasuti-aruszallitas-teljesitmenye/

Author: Peter Bucsky


Rail freight declines by 6% in Hungary during 2023


Even in the last quarter of the year, the decline in the performance of rail freight transport expressed in freight tonkm compared to the same period of the previous year was five percent.

Similar to the coronavirus epidemic, the domestic goods transport market ended a difficult year. In 2023, the performance of the entire domestic freight transport: while in 2020 the decline compared to the previous year's performance in terms of freight tons was 10.3 percent, in 2023 it was 9.6 percent.

However, the situation is worse from a railway point of view: while the annual output increased by 9.1 percent in 2020, it decreased by 6.4 percent in 2023. Compared to 2019, the performance of rail freight remained at an unchanged level.

The railway's performance can still be said to be the best compared to other modes of freight transport.


In 2023, the transport of goods by road decreased almost twice as much, by 11.4 percent. The performance of road freight transport last year was therefore 10 percent below the level of 2019. The downward trend of inland freight transport has not stopped either, after last year's 13 percent drop, it is already 38 percent below the 2019 level. Pipeline transport dropped significantly by 2021, and since then the annual decrease has only been minor.

Examining the data on a quarterly basis, it can be seen that the rate of decline was still significant even in the last three months of 2023. However, for the public road, the 2023. IV. quarter brought an accelerating decline, a slight increase compared to the previous quarter could already be seen for the railways.

The decline in freight transport performance and the transformations of recent years also had a noticeable effect on the freight transport modal split:

The share of rail freight transport in the transport division of labor increased to 21.3 percent from 18 percent in 2019.

However, all this did not go hand in hand with the reduction of the most polluting road freight transport, as its rate rose from 62.3 percent in 2019 to 66.4 percent. Thus, the transformation in the market was mainly caused by the decline in pipeline and inland waterway freight transport. It is true that the latter two modes of transport are very different from the road and rail freight transport markets. Natural gas and crude oil are mainly transported by pipeline. In addition to the transport of raw materials for steel production, such as coal and iron ore, agricultural products are typical in Danube shipping. Since inland freight transport basically means transit and international traffic, this changes much more due to external circumstances in our country.

The performance of domestic freight transport decreased by 4 percent last year in terms of freight tonkm, but in the case of railways there was an 11.6 percent drop, while in the case of public roads there was a decrease of 0.7 percent. Compared to 2019, the domestic transport of goods by rail decreased by 20 percent, while the transport of goods by road increased by 3 percent.

In the international context, the situation is reversed: compared to the previous year, road freight transport had to suffer a 17.9 percent drop, which was much larger than the 5.3 percent value of the railway performance. Compared to 2019, the railway transported 4 percent more last year, while road vehicles transported 18 percent less.

Based on the data, the biggest change in the domestic freight market in 2023 was mainly caused by the decrease in international freight demand. Based on the trends, it can be seen in international traffic that the traffic is diverted from trucks to trains, but opposite processes could be seen domestically.