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Towards Origin-Destination Matrices for Europe

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

In order to develop effective transport policies, reliable data collection systems and databases, statistical analysis models and forecasting tools are needed to anticipate future developments. This is essential for assessing needs for transport infrastructure and evaluating the likely benefits of policy actions.


In addition, transport operators and infrastructure providers need origin-destination information, so that they can plan their investment in facilities, operations and marketing with confidence.


Until recently, customs records have provided a data source on freight movements for this purpose. However, this source has been lost with the disappearance of customs duty between Member States.


MYSTIC aimed to develop and test methodologies for building

origin-destination matrices for passenger and freight transport at a

pan-European level from currently available data, and to chart a process

for updating matrices in the future.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


On the basis of data sources existing in 7 European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden), MYSTIC developed and demonstrated a data harmonisation process to produce a European passenger trip matrix, mainly for road and rail transport. A case study in the UK showed how more detailed data sets can be combined in a database to provide trip matrices suitable for infrastructure design and assessment.


A survey of electronic data interchange (EDI) systems showed that the information required to build freight trip matrices often exists in the computer system of the originator of the consignment, although automation of data collection from these systems would be difficult without standardisation. A survey of freight shippers found that shipments could be successfully traced from origin to destination through each link of the transport chain using telephone interviews. This methodology allows matrices to be built for each commodity flow, and could be scaled up to the European level. Such a methodology has hitherto eluded researchers.


MYSTIC highlighted the importance of establishing an organisational structure for data management that safeguards sensitive data and ensures quality. For example, in the freight sector, it appears that surveys among shippers need to be sponsored by official agencies, since companies are reluctant to respond to non-governmental initiatives.

Policy implications

Pan-European passenger and freight origin-destination matrices could help governments to plan their economic and transport policies in an effective way. MYSTIC has demonstrated viable methodologies to support this.


For the freight sector, the project showed that paper and telephone-based interview methods could be used to estimate pan-European trip matrices. However, there is an immediate opportunity to introduce an EU-wide standard for freight data collection formats, to feed into the new EDI products being developed at a time of rapid change in freight logistics systems.


MYSTIC highlighted the need to collect a consistent set of new data for the European level. For this purpose, it has recommended and specified a rolling programme of new pan-European origin-destination surveys for both the passenger and freight sectors


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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