Per Capita Rail Coverage in EU and US Regions

May 30, 2018
Chart of Rail per Thousand People in EU and US Regions

The chart above shows miles of rail per thousand people in EU and US regions.  It's rare to see the EU and US regions be so similar to each other.  Usually, the regions of one superstate clump together but in this metric there is a weaving back and forth between EU and US regions.


  • The difference between the region with the most rail per capita, the Northern EU, and the region with the least, the Southern EU, is 0.61 miles.
  • The Northern EU has 3.88 times the rail per capita that the Southern EU does.
  • The Northeastern US and the Southern EU are the only regions with less than one-quarter mile of track for every thousand people.


  • 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.
  • All figures are rounded to the nearest hundredth.
  • Hawaii, Cyprus, and Malta have no rail network.
  • The Northern EU consists of Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.
  • The Midwestern US consists of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
  • The Eastern EU consists of Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
  • The Southern US consists of Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
  • The Western US consists of California, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.
  • The Western EU consists of Germany, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, and Luxembourg.
  • The Northeastern US consists of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • The Southern EU consists of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta.


One would think there would be a pretty strong correlation between this metric and population or population density, but looking at the data, it does not seem like there is.

The European Union as a whole has 0.40 miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants ranking it under the Southern US and above the Western US.  The United States as a whole has 0.45 miles of rail for every thousand inhabitants ranking it just under the Southern US and above the Western US.


Eurostat.  2017.  "Data Explorer."  Accessed December 11, 2017.

Eurostat.  2018.  "Eurostat - Data Explorer: Railway Transport - Length of Tracks."  Accessed March 20, 2018.

United States Census Bureau.  "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016."  Accessed December 12, 2017.

United States Department of Transportation.  2015.  "State Transportation by the Numbers."  Accessed March 21, 2018.