Rail transport is an industry of two halves, covering transportation of passengers and transportation of cargo. Although the infrastructure used for each is broadly common, different business models, technologies and systems are utilised.
Inevitably, the pandemic has had significant impacts on the rail industry but pre-pandemic priorities of providing customers with better experiences to enable rail to compete with air travel and continuing to position rail as a competitor to sea transport continue, writes George Malim, Transport 360 magazine managing editor.
In spite of obvious impacts on passenger flows, the pandemic hasn’t derailed adoption of new technologies such as intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and IoT- related smart railway applications. Research from Research and Markets predicts that the global passenger rail transport market will in fact turn out to have grown from a value of US$221.18bn in 2020 to US$247.56bn in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9%.
The growth is mainly thanks to rail companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, which has led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working and the closure of commercial activities.
All of this caused substantial difficulties for passenger rail operators, but the research firm thinks momentum will continue and estimates market value will reach US$307.39bn in 2025 at a CAGR of 6%.