According to a working paper from European Union in june 2013, despite the regular economic growth, the  overall  performance of  the EU  rail  sector  has been mixed, as measured by the evolution of rail inter-modal shares in total transport. In the freight sector, it decreased from 10.5% in 2005 down to 10.2% in 2010. In the passenger sector, rail transport position has on the contrary slightly increased from 6.1% to 6.3% over the same period. The limited growth in inter-modal rail market shares also indicate that rail transport services are constrained by competition from other transport modes such as air, road and maritime transport (intermodal competition). 
These extremely low market shares are to put into perspective with the domination previously provided by the railroad in the first 120 years of its existence. What are the reasons for its decline ? 

The current situation of freight transports, characterized by the predominance of road transport, shown a steady increase in the share of this mode. This important increasing is due to the combination of a competition effect and a structural effect. The transport market is compartmentalized in a large number of largely independent segments. 
A gradual decline of rail freight transport 
The nature of freight activity depends largely of the type of industry located along the railway network. Since the 1960s, the European economy has gradually changed from one largely based around heavy industries to one that is dominated by the logistics’ sectors.  
Deindustrialization since the 1970s : the decline of heavy industry 
The freight’s world has moved dramatically towards the “logistic’s world” (photo kawanet)
From bulk to logistics  
With the great changes in transportation, com-munication and information technology, combined with a globalized economy that encouraged foreign direct investment, capital mobility and labor migration, many factories have move to lower-cost sites while the services and financial sectors have been concentrated to urban areas.  

Many economists have defined the deindustrialization with others reasons include competition from overseas, particularly from South East Asia, poor management, lack of investment, outdated working practices and the labour costs. But they also explain the transformation of economy and his impact on industry. For example in UK in 1945, there were still 50 steelworks in Ebbw Vale in South Wales. By 1970, there were just seven.

According to a Finnish report from University to Tampere, in the late 1970s and early 1980s the bases for concentration of information occupations with high knowledge, caused a wide social changes of workers with high education and special skills, in some urban centers in Europe. The 1990s witnessed an extremely rapid change of the whole society towards a high-tech society. Industries have followed this “high-tech” movement and this resulted a major impact of the nature of industry.
The railways dominated the transport such coal, heavy bulk or materials and, as a result, the quantities of cargo carried by the railways fell steadily from the beginning of decline of railways until the 1990s. But the freight’s world has moved dramatically towards the “logistic’s world” where goods are generally moved in much smaller but more frequent consignments and are therefore ideally suited to some form of unit load transport which has multiplied dramatically the strength of HGV sector.

The cost and quality of services provided by the former nationalised railway industry has declined because freight trains are not designed to respond to the new industry structure, as strict just-in-times practices. Today, many factories send only 10 or 30 pallets a day. This is wholly inadequate to load a full train.