Transport and infrastructure in the United Kingdom

Our listing of the primary types of transport compares the infrastructure of the United Kingdom with the average of all countries in Europe. Overall, the traffic routes are above average and in good condition.

In terms of the length of its rail network, United Kingdom ranks 57th in the world with 0.25 meters per inhabitant. In total, the rail network is 16,837 kilometers long. Freight traffic on the rails most recently totaled 15.21 billion tons and kilometers traveled. Passenger traffic reached 24.19 billion passenger-kilometers in 2020.

The waterways listed refer to inland traffic on rivers and canals. The number of ports includes those located on the 12,429 km of coastline. In 2020, about 9.27 million freight containers were transported.

Airports in the United Kingdom

Back to overview: United Kingdom

Road traffic

The network of roads and highways has a total length of 394,428 km. For each of the country's 67.33 million inhabitants, this corresponds to 5.86 meters. This puts United Kingdom in 96th place in the global ranking. However, the country's size and population density of around 276 inhabitants per km² must also be taken into account. Countries with fewer inhabitants in the same or even larger area naturally achieve quite different values here and have to connect remote areas to the transport network despite a smaller population.

With an average of 1996 traffic fatalities per year (2013 - 2019), road traffic in the United Kingdom is considered very safe. This corresponds to 3.0 accident fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year. By comparison, this figure is 12.3 in the USA and 17.0 worldwide.

In the United Kingdom, left-hand traffic is the rule on the roads, i.e. you drive in the left lane and overtake on the right. Oncoming traffic comes to meet you on the right side. This rule was introduced at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars. Here you can also find an overview of all countries with left-hand traffic.


United Kingdom

 totalper 1 mio
per km²
Roadways394,400 km5,858.43 km1,619.10 m
Railroads16,800 km250.08 km69.11 m
Waterways3,200 km47.53 km13.14 m
Commercial harbors1,24918.550.005


 total per 1 mio
per km²
Roadways6,708,900 km11,154.38 km1,111.71 m
Railroads258,600 km429.97 km42.85 m
Waterways54,800 km91.17 km9.09 m
Commercial harbors15,27325.390.003

Data sources used

Global Health Observatory Data Repository (World Health Organization)
Internation Union of Railways (UIC)
CIA Factbook
OECD Statistics
Wikipedia (german)
United Kingdom: AirportsLargest airports and airlines in the United KingdomThe 30 biggest airports and 9 airlines in the United Kingdom with further information and data with further information on airlines and destinations
United Kingdom: ClimateClimate and temperature development in the United KingdomA climate analysis for the United Kingdom incl. temperatures, humidity, rain days per month, hours of sunshine, water temperature, rainfalls
Ranking: MegacitiesMega cities - the biggest cities all over the worldRanking of the biggest cities worldwide. On top: Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing