THE European Union’s (EU) Shift2Rail public-private partnership research initiative aims to help rail to achieve a 50% reduction in life-cycle costs, to double capacity, and improve reliability and punctuality by up to 50%. This should make rail more competitive and achieve a shift from other modes to rail as its name implies. Overall, Shift2Rail will reinvigorate railway research and innovation in Europe.
WHEN it comes to a network business like rail, a small improvement in efficiency can have massive operational impacts. According to GE Transportation, the US rail freight industry experiences 500,000 delays a year and one in four trains suffer unplanned downtime. By increasing the average speed of each train by 1.6km/h, and reducing the amount of time trains are stationary by 1%, the savings to the industry could be as high as $US 4.7bn.
THE International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is calling for urban transport authorities to build their own fleets of autonomous vehicles (AVs) for shared use and integration with existing bus and rail services to avoid “a dystopian future of even more private car traffic on the road.”
THE digitisation of the railways has been the major topic for some time now. This was clearly evident at InnoTrans last September, where the potential for digitising the railway system was defined and presented. In 2017, this trend will surely continue as new products and smart solutions become operational. This is a positive development for the railway which should make use of state-of-the-art tools and methods.
After opening its new rail vehicle assembly plant in Britain and completing its acquisition of Finmeccanica’s rail assets in 2015, 2016 proved to be another eventful year for Hitachi’s international rail business.