Freight transport

The "Freight transport" fact sheet examines the modal split of this type of transport, both in Portugal and in the EU-28, and quantifies the volumes of goods by type of transport, as well as the volumes moved as a result of international trade.


The European Union (EU) has set the objective of separating mobility from its negative impacts on human health and the environment. The transport sector is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and it is also responsible for high levels of air pollution and noise, which can seriously damage human health and ecosystems.

When we consider the environmental impact of freight transport, modal split becomes particularly significant due to the differences in terms of environmental performance between the various transport modes - namely in what regards resource consumption, GHG and pollutant emissions and noise.

Despite the fact that modal split is associated with various factors, such as the type of goods, specific transportation requirements, the type of transport available, the truth is that some transports have a greater negative impact on the environment than others. Comparing road transport with rail transport, we note that the latter tends to be more efficient in terms of volume of goods transported per amount of energy used and mostly less pollutant.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores and shall be updated on an annual basis.

Objectives and targets: 
  • The 2014-2020 Strategic Plan for Transport and Infrastructures, published in April 2014 and reviewed in June 2015, sets a number of targets, most notably the increase of 40% in the number of tonne-kilometres transported by rail, by 2020;
  • The White Paper on Transport, adopted by the European Commission in 2011, proposes transferring 30% of the road freight traffic in distances longer than 300 km, and over 50% by 2050, to other modes, such as rail or inland waterway/sea, by 2030, with the support of efficient and ecological corridors.
Progress analysis:
Last update: 
Thursday, 31 January, 2019