The chart above shows miles of rail per thousand people in EU and US states. Surprisingly it is US states that lead in this metric and US states are the only ones with over two miles of track for every thousand residents.
- The difference between the state with the most rail per capita, North Dakota, and the state with the least, Rhode Island (Hawaii, Malta, and Cyprus do not have any rail), is 4.93 miles.
- North Dakota has 274.28 times the rail per capita that Rhode Island does.
- Only four states have more than two miles of rail per thousand inhabitants and they are all in the US.
- Only one state has less than one-tenth of a mile of rail per thousand inhabitants.
- The mean miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants for the EU is 0.48 and the median 0.46.
- The mean miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants for the US is 0.80 and the median 0.54.
- The mean miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants for both the EU and the US combined is 0.69 and the median 0.51.
- EU population data is from 2011. US population data is from 2010.
- EU rail length data is from 2016 except for Belgium (2009), Denmark (1998), Greece (2015), the Netherlands (2003), Austria (2007), and Poland (2015). US rail length data is from 2013.
- Rail and population data come from different sources.
- EU and US data come from different sources.
- The US rail network is almost exclusively used for freight.
- All figures are rounded to the nearest hundredth.
- Hawaii, Cyprus, and Malta have no rail network.
North Dakota also has the highest per capita road coverage and its low population numbers may be a significant contributor to that. Its recent oil boom may have also spurred on additional transportation infrastructure as well, but a look at older data would be required to verify that. This metric is a bit deceptive however, because most of the rail in the US is used for freight purposes and even though nine out of the top ten states are from the US, EU residents might have higher per capita rail coverage if only passenger rail was counted.
The European Union as a whole has 0.40 miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants ranking it under Slovakia and above Belgium. The United States as a whole has 0.45 miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants ranking it under Ohio and above Nevada.
Eurostat. 2017. "Data Explorer." Accessed December 11, 2017. http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=urb_lpop1&lang=en.
Eurostat. 2018. "Eurostat - Data Explorer: Railway Transport - Length of Tracks." Accessed March 20, 2018. http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/submitViewTableAction.do.
United States Census Bureau. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016." Accessed December 12, 2017. http://factfinder2.census.gov.
United States Department of Transportation. 2015. "State Transportation by the Numbers." Accessed March 21, 2018. https://www.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/files/legacy/_entire.pdf.