Increasing adoption of new-age technology in both railway management and operation in order to reduce travel discomforts and improve transport efficiency is translating into an uptick in demand for smart railways solutions. In order to efficiently handle the increasing passenger density across the globe, authorities are deploying smart solutions in railways that include ergonomic station design, smart ticketing solutions, fuel efficiency, eco-friendly rails and more. Integration of smart solutions is anticipated to bring a massive transformation in rail transportation.
While demand for smart railway solutions is highest in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ), their adoption in North America remains rife as compared to other developed regions. According to a study conducted by Future Market Insights (FMI), the smart railway market in APEJ is set to reach around US$ 50 Billion in revenues over 2025. This is primarily due to a robust adoption of latest railways technologies in emerging countries such as India and China. Whereas, the smart railway market in North America is largely captured by the U.S and the county in making a significant contribution to the overall development of the market in the region. Europe represents the third largest market for smart railways with EU5 countries collectively accounting for the largest market share in the region. It is projected that the global market for railways is likely to stand at US$ 160 Billion in terms of revenue by the end of next eight years.
Integrated ticketing solution is considered to be a revolutionary change in railways. Increasing urgency to reduce paper-based tickets is favouring the adoption of E-ticket solutions across the globe, which is expected to gain stronger moment in the near future. Benefits such as lower dependency of paper and cash, faster booking and easy authentication procedures are expected to be the key factors driving the adoption of smart ticket solutions. The idea of a single ticket, irrespective of the service type or transportation is becoming a reality due to the arrival of such cutting –edge technology. Similarly, integration of the latest internet technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Big data is expected to make a considerable impact on travel safety. The analogue train control systems are being upgraded to digital computer-based point machines. Moreover, Big data and IoT will allow obtaining insights on passenger behaviour that can assist operators in meticulously performing tasks such as customer service, stall deployment, and personalised promotional campaigns.
Favourable government policies are further encouraging railway managers and operators to deploy smart technologies. The growth of the smart railways market, is to an extent, dependent on government funding and support. Authorities in various countries are strongly motivated to enhance their national railway systems, urging rapid implementation and allocation of funds. For instance, leading banks in China are now backing up financial firms in PPP projects that are associated with smart railways investments.
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Innovation in train technology, a crucial part of the entire smart railway concept. Development of more greener and fuel efficient trains is also a key focus area for railway operators and authorities. For example, Germany has recently introduced a unique hydrogen low-floor emission-free passenger train – “Coradia iLint”. The train is currently operating in Salzgitter, Germany and is manufactured by France-based Alstom – a leading company in rail transport market, which unveiled the train in September 2016 for the first time. Some of the key companies having an active participation in the global market for smart railway include Indra Sistemas, S.A., Alcatel-Lucent S.A., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Cisco Systems, Inc., IBM Corporation, Ansaldo STS, ABB Group, Alstom S.A., Bombardier Inc., Hitachi, Ltd., Siemens AG, and General Electric Co.