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Global View for Railway Transportation

Railway transportation is a vital service to global society and the backbone of a sustainable economy. It has an unprecedented opportunity to achieve the sustainability which is required for the 21 century. By doing so, railway will be able to respond to the expected growth in transport demand, both passenger and freight.
rapid development of railway transportation
As a global organisation, UIC has the vision of global dimension of the railways, which requires for better efficiency and effectiveness a convergence of currently existing technical systems and solutions. In order to achieve economies of scale and seamlessness of operation, UIC has continued its efforts to bring national and regional specificities of the rail system closer together – where such specificities are unavoidable – to optimise their inclusion into a globally coherent and interoperable system. International Railway Standards (IRS) are also an important factor in achieving this.
In order to attract more passenger and freight customers and consistently satisfy their requirements, more innovative and cost-effective ways need to be identified and implemented to increase punctuality, safety-security and capacity, improve performance at a system level and remove barriers to seamless intermodal transport and railway interoperability.

Development of Passenger Traffic Railway

The passenger rail service deals with different categories of customers through specifically designed services. The various passenger rail market segments depend mainly on the distance travelled – long, medium and short distance – and on the territory served – regional, suburban and urban.
high speed railway transportation for passengers
Each rail market segment (high speed, mainline, regional, urban and suburban) may correspond to specific customer needs mainly depending on the distance and purpose of travel as well as on their expectations depending upon their age, education, activity, gender, income and possible reduced mobility. To satisfy these requirements, the relevant passenger market segments may require specific design, construction, manufacture, operations and maintenance conditions, and therefore may call for specific research needs summarised in the subsequent chapters.

Freight Railway Transportation Around the World 

Rail freight is a key element in the establishment of a sustainable transport system. The low level of external costs generated by rail freight should make it the mode of choice for freight customers looking to reduce their environmental impact. Indeed, rail is the most eco-friendly land transport mode for freight, with much lower CO2 emissions and energy consumption per tonne-kilometre than road freight or transport by inland waterways.
freight railway transportation around the world
Rail is the mode of choice for bulk commodities such as solid mineral fuels (coal, coke), ores and metal waste as well as an important mode for the transport of petroleum products and fertilisers. Rail freight hubs worldwide are not only fed by railway lines but increasingly also by railroad combined transport. In addition, due to the development of maritime containerised transport and road congestion, intermodal transport has developed dramatically in the past 30 years, becoming the fastest growing freight transport segment in Europe with a more important role for railway.
In North America, but also in Asia, freight operations generally meet better structural conditions than in Europe. Distances are generally longer, stops less frequent and the infrastructure allows for substantially longer and heavier trains, thus making freight operations less costly than in Europe. In some places such as in North America and Australia, railway infrastructure and operating undertakings are often single integrated companies, often with far less passenger traffic. In the European Union the so-called rail freight corridors have been implemented in order to focus efforts to improve the framework conditions on designated lines with high economic importance. A similar effort is currently being undertaken on certain freight lines between Europe and China. These Asian-European rail freight corridors have a high business potential as freight trains operating on these routes are considerably faster than container ships and much more cost effective than air transport. However, interoperability problems (both technically and operationally) in combination with legal and administrative obstacles have so far partly hampered rail freight transport between Europe and Asia from achieving equal economic importance as in North America.
Improvements to the simplicity, transparency and quality of the offered freight services (seamless transport and especially a controlled punctuality) are needed to attract customers to consider rail as their first choice mode for the transport of most goods. The improvement of the quality of the infrastructure as well as ensuring technical interoperability is another major, however also cost intensive, parameter. Among the most cost effective measures where a comparatively small investment can bring about significant reduction of journey times are those aimed at cutting time spent at border crossings. Harmonisation and synchronisation of certain procedures, such as the unloading and reloading of containers between different gauge systems and customs can save time and be more effective in speeding up transport than costly infrastructure measures which are also time consuming.

Trends and Developments of Railway Transportation 

Rail transport demand is steadily expanding worldwide, in particular in metropolitan areas with soaring populations. Even in Europe where population growth is slower, forecasts show a rise in the railway share of transport.
high-speed railroad construction
Also on other continents, passenger rail transport demand is being driven by a surge in demand for intercity and interurban mobility. Well integrated public transport involving rail, metro, tram and bus transport is already capturing increased market shares in urban and regional markets not just for commuting but also for leisure trips, and this trend is expected to accelerate as urbanisation spreads.
The demand for long distance rail journeys is already growing in many countries and this growth is expected to increase with further development of the high-speed rail network in Europe and particularly Asia. The commercial speeds on high speed lines are expected to average up to 300 km/hour allowing up to a 1,000 km distance in a still attractive travelling time of 5 to 7 hours doorto-door. Express freight will also be offered. Expectations of railway experts see substantial revenues of these infrastructures attracting private market investments to contribute to their cost and thus relieving public budgets.

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