Transportation is the underlying network that makes modern society run smoothly. Life would be exasperating without public transit, and primitive without the trucks, ships, and cargo airlines that deliver food, gasoline, and other necessities.
In New York City alone, the Metropolitan Transit Authority logs more than 3.4 billion passenger trips each year with over 12 billion miles traveled. Europe’s rail system, meanwhile, carried 9.3 billion passengers in 2015 and traveled 583 billion kilometers.
As economies grow, demand rises especially for public transit. According to a report from the International Union of Railways (UIC), “the demand for long-distance rail journeys is already growing in many countries,” many of which are considering high-speed rail systems. In less populated regions, meanwhile, rail transport is expected to provide the “best value for the money” to enable mobility.
Yet transportation systems in many areas suffer from under-investment and old infrastructure. Boston built its first subway in 1897; transit systems in New York and Chicago were first built at the turn of the 20th century. Newer systems such as the Washington, D.C. Metro started operating in 1976. The first high-speed rail systems in Europe, meanwhile, debuted in 1981.
While coping with old infrastructure, public transportation systems must meet enhanced safety requirements to prevent accidents. They also face challenges competing on price and customer service with airlines as well as innovative companies such as Uber. Customers today expect a smooth experience, free from unnecessary delays, and public transit has not historically performed well on that measure.
According to the UIC report, the rail industry needs to develop more innovative and cost-effective ways “to increase punctuality, safety-security and capacity, improve performance at a system level, and remove barriers to seamless intermodal transport and railway interoperability.”
The report recommended key goals for rail systems:
- Enhanced automation: Focus on full integration of intelligent communication technology (ICT) and applications between the user, the vehicle, traffic management services, and operation.
- Adaptability: Allow operators to respond in a flexible manner to changes in users’ demands and constraints.
- Resilience: Focus on ensuring service levels are maintained even under extreme operating conditions.
Read the source article at RTInsights.com.