IRU report shows decade of Polish successes in the road transport industry

The report highlights dynamic developments in road freight across Europe during the past decade. Transport activities within the EU surged by 22% from 2013 to 2022, culminating in a total of 1.92 billion tkm. Moreover, statistical data in the report solidifies Poland's robust foothold in the European transport market.

Emerging as a frontrunner, Polish carriers executed transport operations totaling 385.1 million tkm, commanding a formidable 20% market share throughout the ten-year span. Germany claimed the second position in EU freight transport, commanding a share of 15.8%, followed closely by Spain with 13.9%. Rounding up the top five are France and Italy.

Since 2017, Poland has maintained its supremacy in the EU transport rankings, surpassing Germany. Notably, Polish carriers have consistently amplified their transport volumes since then, contrasting with a decline in activity observed among German companies.

Between 2017-2022, Polish carriers experienced a 14.9% increase in their overall transport performance, while German counterparts recorded a marginal 3% rise in transport activity during the same period.

A decade of Polish success

The analysis conducted by the IRU unveils a remarkable leap by Polish carriers over the entire ten-year period. Their transport performance surged by an impressive 55.5%, contrasting with a marginal 0.5% downturn observed among German carriers. The surge in Polish carrier activity throughout the decade translated into a significant market share increase within the EU road freight sector, climbing from 15.75% in 2013 to an impressive 20% in 2022.

Lithuanian and Romanian carriers also made substantial strides in the EU freight landscape. While the former doubled their transport performance, the latter nearly doubled it, resulting in a boosted market share - 2.8% for Lithuanians and 3.35% for Romanians in 2022, compared to 1.67% and 2.1% a decade earlier, respectively. In parallel, Western carriers witnessed a noticeable surge in transport activity, particularly among Spanish companies.

From 2013-2022, Spanish transport performance surged by 25.7%, with market shares increasing from 12.2% to 12.6% over the same period.

Strong performance by Eastern European hauliers

Despite 61.3% of EU transport work being conducted on domestic routes, Eastern European carriers exhibit a pronounced reliance on international transport, as evidenced by Poland's 63.6% engagement in international transport work, in contrast to Germany's 11.7%. While Lithuania boasts a staggering 94% of transport work executed on foreign destinations, Poland's robust domestic market still accounts for a significant portion of its transport activities. The top ten countries specializing in international transport primarily comprise Central and Eastern European nations, with Luxembourg ranking second, and Portugal also featuring on the list, possibly due to favorable tax regulations.

As highlighted by the IRU report, cross-trade and cabotage transport are gaining traction in international transport, with carriers from Eastern and Central Europe spearheading the charge. Notably, Polish carriers lead the EU market in cross-trade, transporting 90.8 million tons in 2022, followed by Lithuanians (35.8 million tons) and Romanians (22.6 million tons).

Central European hauliers covering long distances

The report sheds light on the distances covered by EU carriers relative to their transport performance. Notably, most transport work occurs on routes spanning 500-999 km, followed by distances of 150-299 km and 300-499 km.

Polish carriers demonstrate significant activity within the 500-999 km range, accounting for a quarter of the market share in this category.

Furthermore, they maintain substantial engagement in longer distances (1000-1999 km), commanding approximately 35% market share in this segment.