Until a few weeks ago, the discussion about climate change and how to tackle it dominated many political, corporate and societal discussions around the globe. With the coronavirus pandemic almost overnight everything changed. But climate change and the coronavirus pandemic have one thing in common: both will have massive effects on our future mobility’s design. In my recent conversations with several renowned investors, former mobility executives, and ministers, my main takeaway is that rail, after a short-term drop, will experience new all-time highs. Here’s why:
Railways are government-owned in general and ranked among the top five employers in most countries. In the past, every time there had been an economic crisis, the railway grew faster than before because governments, especially in Europe and Asia, invested even more in their infrastructure to save and create jobs domestically.
Global average annual investment needs in rail infrastructure are $315 billion, according to The International Energy Agency. That is about 50% higher than they were over the past decade – a historic growth of investment due to its sustainability advantages. Especially when it comes to the Smart Railway Market, enabling transformative digital solutions such as ours, there is a 13,7 % compound annual growth rate.
Within the EU, the greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector are still growing and already account for about a quarter of the bloc’s climate impact. Rail is the only transport mode in the EU that has managed to reduce both its emissions while preserving growth. So railway, the safest, most efficient and most sustainable means of transportation, must be part of the solution when it comes to addressing the environmental crisis. But it needs to accelerate the speed of technological adoption urgently.
Before the current coronavirus crisis, around 50 percent of air freight was moved around the globe in passenger planes. The overall declines in capacity are likely to continue for some time to come. Moreover, in its recent Green Deal on the way to making Europe climate neutral in 2050, the EU is aiming to shift a substantial part of the 75% of freight currently sent by truck and van to rail. And only last week the European Commission announced it would “put forward a comprehensive and impact assessed plan” to increase the EU’s 2030 climate target to at least -50% and towards -55%, compared to 1990 emission levels as part of said European Green Deal. Add to that the German government’s goal to double the number of intercity rail traffic passengers until 2030 and the call for a significant increase in rail’s capacities becomes evident.
We are confident that we are well-positioned to support the digital transformation of the global railway to increase its reliability and capacity. Our product is now used by asset managers in 10 countries in Europe and Asia. The KONUX System uses AI and IIoT to increase the reliability and capacity of railway systems to deal with the increasing demand. Our system continuously monitors and analyses the health of key assets, such as switches, and provides actionable recommendations, allowing customers to improve asset uptime and network availability, extend asset lifetime, and empower employees to make maintenance more efficient. (Learn more about our Predictive Maintenance System for Rail Switches).
Tackling climate change remains a long-term challenge for society, beyond the unique situation we are currently experiencing. Rail can and will play a major role in our long journey to lower CO2 emissions. But it needs to upgrade and digitalize its infrastructure to cope with the increasing demand. Last month the European Commission said that train travel should be given special attention in 2021 as part of the EU executive’s Green Deal environmental agenda, suggesting that next year should be the ‘European Year of Rail’. In other words: the investments and the commitments are there, and companies like KONUX that have developed state-of-the-art technology will facilitate this paradigm shift towards green mass transportation, leading to a much-needed transformation of rail.
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