Automated rail systems ‘set for exponential growth’


New figures have suggested that automated, driverless light rail systems are set to see a huge uptick in growth around the world in the coming years.

Research conducted by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) found that the length of these systems has increased by 17 per cent since 2014, with 53 fully automated lines now in operation in 36 cities around the world, totalling 789km of track.

However, by 2025, this length will have increased to around 2,200km, Euro Transport Magazine reports. The study noted that since the first some solutions were implemented 40 years ago, the growth rate has doubled each decade. But in the next ten years, this is set to increase four-fold.

Ramon Malla, chairman of the UITP Observatory of Automated Metros and director of Automated Metro at TMB Barcelona, commented: “Full automation offers a step change opportunity for metro systems and for more sustainable urban mobility.

“The current exponential growth trend confirms that authorities and operators around the world are increasingly ready to take the leap towards this new reference point in metro service and operations.”

Asia is currently the world’s leading market for these projects, the UITP stated, with 42 per cent of infrastructure by length. This is followed by Europe (34 per cent) and North america (13 per cent). At the moment, half the world’s automated light rail infrastructure is to be found in four countries – France, South Korea, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

By 2025, the leading markets will be Asia, Europe and the Middle East, which will represent 32 per cent, 31 per cent and 24 per cent of automated infrastructure respectively.

New developments in nations such as China will also support the development of these transport solutions. The UITP noted the country has announced its first automated rail system will be open by the end of 2017, which could be a significant move that could lead to even higher growth if China embraces automation for its many growing systems.

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