Case study: Social impact of international mobility between Amsterdam and Paris

Every year several million people travel from the Netherlands to Paris, usually by car (over 40%) but also by train, bus or plane (respectively 28%, 15% and 14%). Although everyone has personal preferences, passengers will largely base their choice of transport on the total fare, the journey time and the comfort of the journey.

Although passengers may not explicitly include social considerations in their choice, they are there. Think of the costs of environmental pollution, traffic accidents or maintaining the infrastructure, for example. There are also social benefits, for example taxes that are paid by the passenger.

Social impact per modality of Amsterdam-Paris
Average total fare (including pre-and post-transport) *

* The impact of a trip from Amsterdam to Paris is determined by more than just the price of the trip. This impact differs when taking the train, car, plane or bus.

The impact per passenger is given for one single trip from Amsterdam (Museumplein) to Paris (Eiffel Tower).

We calculated the social impact score of the various modes of transport to gain insight into the playing field for all carriers. The car is currently the most popular means of transport. This could possibly be explained by the relatively low variable costs (fuel and toll) for motorists. Only these costs are actually experienced by motorists. This ‘experienced’ trip price is highest for the train, which is 20 euros more expensive than the car. The fixed costs that motorists pay, such as road tax and insurance, actually make the car the most expensive. The fixed costs make up 65% of the total fare when travelling by car.

The plane has the lowest social value because the journey time spent in planes is uncomfortable and only part of the journey can be spent usefully. Journey time is the most important contribution to the social value. For the plane and bus this aspect even determines more than 90% of the total value. Although the bus is the cheapest mode of transport, the social value is low due to the long journey time. The train has the best social value, especially because the time in the train is valued the highest. The relatively high taxes (such as the motor vehicle tax) mean that the social value of the car is not much more negative. The train scores by far the best on environmental and safety costs. These aspects have limited influence on the social value but do ensure that in the end the train beats the car, bus and plane.

Our aim is to have fast train connections to all the major cities within a radius of 700 kilometres. We are actively advocating a European agenda for the railways. In 2018, we put a fast connection between Amsterdam and Berlin on the agenda. We would like to work this out in more detail in 2019 with Deutsche Bahn and the public authorities. The connection between Amsterdam and London will be expanded this year in any event from two to three trains a day.