एक नया तरीका: मेट्रो और मुंबई

मुंबई का बुनियादी ढांचा बदल रहा है । शहर में फील्डवर्क करते हुए, कार्ल एडलर ने देखा कि भारत की वित्तीय राजधानी में नए परिवहन मोड महानगर को कैसे नया रूप देंगें ।

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मैं उठता हूँ , तैयार होता हूँ , बाहर जाता हूँ  और चर्चगेट तक लगभग एक किलोमीटर चलकर आता हूँ । मैं जांघ-ऊंचाई वाले बोल्डर और बाड़ की लंबाई के बीच से गुज़रता हूँ, जो फुटपाथ को संकुचित करते हैं । कोई इष्टतम ऊंचाई नहीं है जिस पर मेरी निगाहों को इस तरह  टिका सकूँ कि बाधाओं से बच जाऊं ; यहाँ हर जगह आश्चर्य है, और पूरे दृश्य पर पूरा ध्यान देने की आवश्यकता है। अंत में, मैं चर्चगेट पहुँचता हूँ। मैंने यहाँ और बांद्रा के बीच के लिए एक मासिक पास खरीदा है, इसलिए मुझे टिकट खिड़की के  बाहर कतार में इंतजार नहीं करना पड़ेगा। मुझे अगले तीन सप्ताह तक ऐसा नहीं करना पड़ेगा। मैं लंबे सफेद गलियारे के अंत में मेटल डिटेक्टर से गुज़रता हूँ   और बर्थ में आराम से बैठी चौड़ी बैंगनी ट्रेनों को देखता हूँ ।

प्रत्येक ट्रेन बड़े हरे रंग की संख्याओं और अक्षरों के साथ एक डिस्प्ले के नीचे खड़ी हुई हैं जो इंगित करती है कि ट्रेन कब जा रही है, कहाँ रुकेगी और कहाँ ख़तम  होगी। यह कोड सरल है, लेकिन उन सभी महीनों में इसे क्रैक करने से मुझे ऐसा लगा कि अब मैं मुंबई से हूँ । अब मुझे इसके बारे में सोचने की भी जरूरत नहीं है। मैं उस संकेत के नीचे ट्रेन तक जाता हूं जो मुझे बताता है कि यह एक्सप्रेस नहीं चलती है, कि यह अंधेरी जाती है, और यह दूसरों की तुलना में जल्दी जा रही है। मैं गाड़ी में प्रवेश करता हूं और ओवरहेड पंखे को चालू करने के लिए अपनी सीट के पास एक स्विच फ्लिप करता हूँ । तीस सेकंड के भीतर, हम प्रस्थान करते हैं। दरवाजे बंद नहीं होते हैं, लेकिन यह सामान्य है। माहिम जंक्शन के लिए मेरे पच्चीस मिनट या उससे अधिक की यात्रा में, मेरी कार में भीड़ बढ़ जाती है और लोग उन खुले दरवाजों के पास खड़े हो जाते हैं, और उस \ पट्टी को पकड़ते हैं जो समर्थन के लिए प्रवेश द्वार को द्विभाजित करती है। प्रत्येक स्टेशन पर, सवारी वाहन के रुकने से पहले प्लेटफॉर्म पर कूद जाते हैं, ट्रेन के साथ कुछ मीटर जॉगिंग करते हैं और फिर धीमी गति से चलते हैं। हम माहिम जंक्शन पहुँचते हैं; मैं गाड़ी से बाहर निकलता हूँ और ट्रेन को उत्तर की ओर धुंध में खोते हुए देखता हूं।

मैंने इस यात्रा के बाद लगभग आधा साल, सोमवार से शुक्रवार तक, घनी उष्णकटिबंधीय गर्मी में बिताया। एक शौकिया परिवहन उत्साही और नवोदित विद्वान होते हुए, महानगर की सभी चीज़ों से ज़्यादा, मुंबई की लोकल ट्रेनों ने मुझे आकर्षित किया । इस प्रणाली ने डेढ़ सदी से अधिक समय तक शहर की संचार प्रणाली के रूप में कार्य किया है। सब्सिडाइज्ड किराए से सभी सामाजिक-आर्थिक पृष्ठभूमि के मुंबईवासियों को लोकल ट्रैन इस्तेमाल करने का मौका मिलता है । इसकी विशिष्टताएं पौराणिक हैं।। अनगिनत बॉलीवुड फिल्मों में भीड़-भाड़ वाली लोकल ट्रेनों में लटके लोगों के क्लिप होते हैं। पात्र अक्सर वाहनों के अचूक पिंजरे जैसे  हिस्सों में मिलते हैं। मुंबई की लोकल ट्रैन गेटवे ऑफ इंडिया, ताज महल पैलेस होटल और मरीन ड्राइव की आर्ट डेको वाली इमारतें के सामान शहर का प्रतीक हैं । हालांकि, यह खामियों के बिना नहीं है।

मुंबई की लोकल ट्रेनों का सुरक्षा रिकॉर्ड बेहद खराब है। भारत की सरकारी रेलवे पुलिस के मुताबिक 2019 में नेटवर्क के अंदर 2691 लोगों की मृत्यु  हुई थी। इसके अलावा 3194 लोग घायल हुए थे। यह संख्या अन्य शहरों में अकल्पनीय होगी। चलती गाड़ियों से गिरना और  प्लेटफार्मों के बीच से पार करने वाले लोग इन मृत्युओं के मुख्य कारण हैं। स्टेशनों पर जाते समय चलती वाहनों से कूदने से भी लोग घायल हो जाते हैं। भीड़भाड़ ने घंटों की यात्रा को यात्रियों के लिए दुःस्वप्न बना दिया है। गाड़ियों को दो वर्गों में बांटा गया है। प्रथम और द्वितीय श्रेणी में बहुत अधिक अंतर नहीं हैं, लेकिन प्रथम श्रेणी के टिकट की कीमत द्वितीय श्रेणी के किराए से लगभग दस गुना अधिक हैं, जिससे ऐसी स्थिति उत्पन्न होती है जहाँ द्वितीय श्रेणी में अत्यधिक भीड़ होती है और पहले में बहुत अधिक जगह होती है। सिस्टम की सभी विलक्षण और आदर्श धारणाएं खुली ट्रेन के दरवाजे से बाहर निकलती हैं, और यह अहसास होता है कि इस प्रणाली को किसी प्रकार के अपग्रेड सेट की आवश्यकता है।  स्थानीय ट्रेन प्रणाली में एक सीमित सेवा क्षेत्र है। मुंबई में रहने वाली एक युवा पेशेवर, श्रुतिका मणिवन्नन, लोकल ट्रेनों से यात्रा करती हैं, लेकिन सिस्टम की अपेक्षाकृत खराब कनेक्टिविटी पर प्रकाश डाला,”लोकल ट्रेन बड़ी दूरी के लिए सुविधाजनक है क्योंकि यह मुझे यात्रा के समय की बचत करती है, लेकिन मैं इसे छोटी दूरियों के लिए टालती हूँ क्योंकि स्टेशन तक पहुंचने में कुछ समय लगता है”।

इस दबाव को कम करने के लिए, मुंबई ने एक नई मेट्रो प्रणाली बनाने के लिए एक महत्वाकांक्षी परियोजना शुरू की है। यह परियोजना कई मुंबईवासियों के अपने शहर से गुजरने के तरीके को पूरी तरह से बदल देगी। यह लोकल ट्रेनों के लिए एक सुरक्षित, अधिक आरामदायक विकल्प का वादा करती है। नए नेटवर्क में अंततः दस लाइनें शामिल होंगी और दोनों का उद्देश्य उन क्षेत्रों की सेवा करना है जहां वर्तमान में स्थानीय ट्रेन की पहुंच नहीं है या फिर लोकल ट्रैन के अलावा एक और विकल्प प्रदान करती हैं । मुंबई मेट्रोपॉलिटन रीजन डेवलपमेंट अथॉरिटी (एम. एम. आर. डी. ए.) के अनुसार, पूरा सिस्टम लगभग 190 किलोमीटर तक फैला होगा।  व्यापक शहरी रेलवे नेटवर्क हासिल करके, मुंबई सडकों पर निजी वाहनों की संख्या में कमी देखने की उम्मीद भी रखता है। अभी तक, केवल एक परिचालन लाइन, लाइन वन है। लाइन वन एक पूर्व-पश्चिम गैलरी में चलती है जिसमें पहले रेलवे कनेक्शन नहीं था और तीन लोकल ट्रेन लाइनों में से दो के बीच महत्वपूर्ण स्थानांतरण स्टेशन प्रदान करती है। इसका निर्माण पब्लिक प्राइवेट पार्टनरशिप के माध्यम से किया गया था, जिसमें रिलायंस एनर्जी लिमिटेड की 69% हिस्सेदारी थी। इस परियोजना की लागत लगभग 43०० करोड़ रुपये थी और सेवा 2014 में शुरू हुई थी। लाइन वन लेकर अन्य लाइनों पर सवार के अनुभव की जानकारी मिलती है।

मैंने पहली बार 2018 की शरद ऋतु में एक जॉब साइट पर पहुंचने के लिए लाइन वन की सवारी की। एक सहकर्मी और मैं उमस भरी दोपहर में हमारे धारावी कोलीवाड़ा के कार्यालय से सायन स्टेशन तक गए । भीड़-भाड़ का समय अभी शुरू ही हुआ था, और हम मध्य रेलवे की वाहन  में सवार हो गए, जैसे ही वह प्लेटफार्म पर पहुंची । हम पूरी यात्रा के लिए दरवाजों के पास रहे- वाहन  में आगे जाने का मतलब यात्रियों की लगातार बढ़ती भीड़ के पीछे फंसना हो सकता है। हमने ट्रेन को लाइन वन के पूर्वी टर्मिनस घाटकोपर पर छोड़ा और मेट्रो के लिए संकेतों का पालन किया। आखिरकार, हम उज्ज्वल और शानदार मेट्रो स्टेशन पर पहुँचे। हम टिकट खिड़की तक गए, वहां इलेक्ट्रॉनिक टोकन खरीदे और उन्हें टर्नस्टाइल पर चिप रीडर के सामने लगाया । गेट खुल गए और हमने प्लेटफार्म तक एस्क्लेटर ले लिया । हमारे सिर के ऊपर लगे एलसीडी पैनल ने हमें बताया कि अगली ट्रेन सिर्फ दो मिनट में रवाना होगी। जल्द ही, हम वातानुकूलित ट्रेन में चढ़कर बैठ गए। हमने मेट्रो से बाहर शहर को अपने नीचे से गुज़रता देखा और दस मिनट के भीतर, अपने गंतव्य पर पहुंच गए।

बाद में कई बार मैंने लाइन वन की सवारी की, सभी एक साथ मिश्रित होते हैं- लाइन का उपयोग करना सुखद और सीधा है। इस नई प्रणाली में लोकल ट्रेनों की विशेषताओं का अभाव है और यह कभी भी शहरी पहचान का केंद्रबिंदु नहीं हो सकता है, जो लोकल ट्रेनें कई मुंबईवासियों के लिए हैं। लेकिन, यह निस्संदेह नेटवर्क पर जगह खाली कर देगा और ड्राइवरों को निजी वाहनों के साथ आने-जाने का एक व्यवहार्य विकल्प दे सकता है। सबसे महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि मेट्रो की बढ़ी हुई सुरक्षा अधिक मुंबईवासियों को कम से कम डर के साथ जीने की अनुमति देगी।


कार्ल एडलर साइंस पो पेरिस में मास्टर के छात्र हैं और इंटरनेशनल ट्रांसपोर्ट फोरम में इंटर्नशिप कर रहे हैं।


2022 के अंत तक मुंबई की मेट्रो की कई अतिरिक्त लाइनों के चालू होने की उम्मीद है।

इंटरनेशनल ट्रांसपोर्ट फोरम दो परियोजनाओं पर भारत में परिवहन को डीकार्बोनाइजिंग पर काम करता है:

डार्बोनिसिंग ट्रांसपोर्ट इन इमर्जिंग इकनोमीस (डीटीईई) – भारत परियोजना का उद्देश्य भारत सरकार और अन्य हितधारकों को परिवहन उपायों की पहचान करने और परिवहन सीओ 2 उत्सर्जन को कम करने और अपने जलवायु लक्ष्यों और एनडीसी को पूरा करने के लिए मार्ग स्थापित करने में मदद करता है । और अधिक जानें

एशिया के लिए एनडीसी ट्रांसपोर्ट इनिशिएटिव (एनडीसी-टीआईए) का उद्देश्य विभिन्न क्षेत्रों के मंत्रालयों, नागरिक समाज और निजी क्षेत्र के बीच समन्वयित परिवहन के लिए प्रभावी नीतियों की एक सुसंगत रणनीति को बढ़ावा देना है। और अधिक जानें

A New Mode: The Metro and Mumbai

Mumbai is in the midst of an infrastructure makeover. Drawing on his fieldwork in the city, Carl Adler looks at how new transport modes in India’s financial capital will reshape the metropolis.

हिंदी संस्करण पर जाएं

Hanging out: Mumbai Suburban Railway moves over 7 million commuters daily

I wake up, get ready, go outside and walk the kilometre or so to Churchgate. I weave between thigh-height bollards and lengths of fence that constrict the footpath and occasional gaps in pavement. There is no optimal height at which to fix my gaze to avoid impediments to movement; there are surprises everywhere here, and the entire scene requires full attention. Eventually, I reach Churchgate. I bought a monthly pass for between here and Bandra, so I do not have to wait in the queue snaking out from the ticket window. I will not have to do so for another three weeks. I walk through the metal detector at the end of the long white corridor and look out at the wide purple trains sitting snugly in their berths.

Each train rests under a display with big green numbers and letters that indicate when a train is leaving, where it will stop and where it will end up. This code is simple, but cracking it all those months ago made me feel a little bit more like I belonged here. Now I don’t even need to think about it. I walk to the train under the sign that tells me it does not run express, that it goes to Andheri, and that it is leaving sooner than the others. I enter the carriage and flip a switch near my seat to turn on the overhead fan. Within thirty seconds, we depart. The doors do not close, but this is normal. Over my twenty-five-minute-or-so commute to Mahim Junction, the crowd in my car swells and people stand beside those open doors, gripping the texturised vertical metal bar which bisects the entrance for support. At each station, riders jump onto the platform before the vehicle stops, jogging alongside the train for a few metres and slowing to a walk. We reach Mahim Junction; I exit the carriage and watch the train pull north into the haze.

I spent nearly half a year following this commute, Monday through Friday, in the thick tropical heat. As an amateur transport enthusiast and budding scholar, Mumbai’s local trains stole my attention more than anything else in the metropolis. The system has served as the city’s circulatory system for over a century and a half. Subsidised fares allow access to Mumbaikers from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Its idiosyncrasies are the stuff of legend. Countless Bollywood films feature clips of people hanging out of crowded local trains. Characters often meet in the unmistakable cage-like interiors of cars. Mumbai’s local train system is as emblematic of the city as the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Art Deco facades along Marine Drive. It is, however, not without its flaws. 

2.64 billion Mumbai Suburban Railway’s annual riders arguably rate service as the worst anywhere in the world

Mumbai’s local trains have an abysmal safety record. According to India’s Government Railway Police, 2,691 people died within the network in 2019. In addition, 3,194 people were injured. These numbers would be unthinkable in other cities. Falls from moving carriages and people crossing between platforms at rail level are the main causes of these fatalities. People also sustain injuries from jumping from moving cars as they pull into stations. Crowdedness makes rush hour travel a nightmare for commuters. Carriages are broken down into two classes. First and second class do not have many material differences, but first-class ticket prices are around ten times as high as second-class fares, leading to situations where there is intense congestion in second class and a great deal of space in first. All romantic and idealised notions of the system fly out the open train doors on crushing weekday mornings, and the realisation that this system needs some sort of an upgrade sets in. Finally, the local train system has a limited service area. Shrutika Manivannan, a young professional based in Mumbai, commutes with local trains but highlighted the system’s relatively poor connectivity. “[The local train is] convenient for large distances because it saves me on commute time, but I avoid it for shorter ones considering reaching the station itself takes some time”.

“I want my travel to be super cool and modern,” say Mumbaikers on the move

To ease some of this pressure, Mumbai has embarked on an ambitious project to build a new metro system. This project will completely change the way many Mumbaikers move through their city. It promises a safer, more comfortable alternative to local trains. The new network will eventually include ten lines and aims both to serve areas that do not currently have local train access and provide an alternative to some local train routes. According to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the completed system will stretch over nearly 190 km. By having a more comprehensive urban railway network, Mumbai also hopes to see a reduction in the number of private vehicles on the road. As of now, there is only one operational line, Line One. Line One serves an east-west corridor that did not previously have a railway connection and provides important transfer points between two of the three local train lines. It was constructed through a Public-Private Partnership, with Reliance Energy Limited holding a 69% stake. The project cost about INR 43 billion, and service began in 2014. Riding Line One gives insight into what rider experiences on other lines will be like.

I first rode Line One in the autumn of 2018 in order to reach a job site. A colleague and I walked through the humid afternoon from our office in Dharavi Koliwada to Sion station. Rush hour had just begun, and we crammed into the Central Railways car when it pulled up to the platform. We stayed near the doors for the whole trip- going further into the car could have meant getting stuck behind the ever-swelling mass of commuters. We left the train at Ghatkopar, Line One’s eastern terminus, and followed the signs for the metro. Eventually, we reached the bright and polished metro station. We walked to the ticket window, bought our electronic tokens and waved them in front of the chip reader on the turnstiles. The gates opened and we took the escalator up to the platform. The LCD panels above our heads told us the next train would depart in just two minutes. Soon, we stepped onto the air-conditioned train and sat down. We watched the city roll underneath us and, within ten minutes, had reached our destination.

Turning point: The Mumbai Metro in action

The many subsequent times I have ridden Line One all blend together- using the line is pleasant and straightforward. This new system lacks the local trains’ quirks and it may never be the centrepiece of urban identity that local trains are for many Mumbaikers. But, it will undoubtedly free up space on the network and it may give drivers a viable alternative to commuting with private vehicles. Most importantly, the metro’s enhanced safety will allow more Mumbaikers to live with at least a little less fear.


Carl Adler is a Master student at Sciences Po Paris and is working on an internship at the International Transport Forum.


Several additional lines of Mumbai’s metro are expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

The International Transport Forum works on decarbonising transport in India over two projects:

The Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) – India project aims to help India’s government and other stakeholders to identify transport measures and establish pathways to reduce transport CO2 emissions and meet their climate goals and NDCs. Learn more

The NDC Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) aims at promoting a coherent strategy of effective policies for decarbonising transport that are co-ordinated among various sector ministries, civil society and the private sector. Learn more

Dream on: the overnight rail comeback that’s revitalising inter-city travel

As night trains return in force, Selwyn Parker revisits the old adage that the journey can be just as important as the destination

Europe to Asia while you snooze: The famous Trans-Siberian Express connects Moscow with Vladivostok over eight nights’ travel

As the European Year of Rail reaches its close, one of its legacies will be the restoration of arguably the most loved of all journeys after a long absence caused primarily by cheap flights that have undercut overnight rail and by the advent of superfast trains that slashed travel times between cities.

Night trains are being revived in several regions, notably Europe, as rail authorities bow to passengers’ growing recognition that speed is not always the most important consideration. As Veronika Haunold, EU and international affairs manager for Austria’s state-run OBB rail service that helped pioneer the recovery of overnight travel with the launch of the Nightjet in 2020, explains: “What matters most to night train passengers is what time they arrive at their destination in the morning, not how long it takes them to get there.”

Fresh arrivals: Nightjet passengers the morning after | Photo credit: © Harald Eisenberger www.eisenberger.co.at

The aftermath of the pandemic may also be exercising its influence as inter-city commuters seek more personal space in the form of separate compartments with individual facilities. And by no means least, there’s flight-shaming, the movement that disapproves of travel by air because of the high emissions per passenger. Governments are under pressure to at least restore the regulatory balance between rail and aviation.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the night train is making a long-awaited comeback. In Europe, several companies have ambitious plans for the near future. France’s Midnight Trains expects to start selling tickets in 2024 for cross-border travel. OBB’s Nightjet, which is run in co-operation with government-owned rail groups in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland, has proved so popular that frequencies will be steadily increased as tracks become available. And there are moves afoot to expand Eastern Europe’s EuroNight service between capitals with the co-operation of OBB and other rail groups.

Sleeping on a Vietnamese … sleeper

And that’s just in Europe. Indonesia revived its night trains in 2018 after a long period of neglect and now provides facilities akin to business class in aircraft.

In some countries, though, the night train never went away. For Thailand, Bangkok’s long-running sleepers may be basic – no showers, for instance – but they have been popular with locals, commuters and tourists for years. In 2016, more luxurious sleeper cars were added.  But the grandaddy of night trains is surely Britain’s privately-owned Caledonian Sleeper, running Sunday to Friday from the top of Scotland to London Euston. Launched in 1873, the Sleeper survived in various guises until 1988, an astonishing 115 years, before it was revived in 1996 and has been going strong ever since, picking up carriages during the night. Completely new carriages were introduced in mid-2019, replacing tired rolling stock with worn interiors. Britain has a good record in domestic night trains – a second service, the Night Riviera Sleeper between London Paddington and Penzance on the Cornish coast, was revived in 1983.

A no-frills express sleeper in Thailand

The revival of the overnight train is a victory for passengers. Rail enthusiasts treasure the experience it provides – dining and drinking while the countryside flies by before falling asleep to the clickety-clack of the wheels. As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in From a Railway Carriage: “All of the sights of the hill and the plain/Fly as thick as driving rain;/And ever again, in the wink of an eye, Painted stations whistle by.”

It all started going wrong for overnight rail in the 1990s. In the teeth of competition from aviation, state-run rail largely allowed the overnight service to wither and nearly die. Most European state-run companies poured their resources into domestic networks and cut the cross-border links on which overnight services rely. And having given up the fight almost before it started, they parked up their cars. As rail consultant Mark Smith of The Man in Seat 61 points out: “[Some] operators abandoned night trains and scrapped the stock or let it rot in sidings, so it was no longer fit for purpose without major expenditure.”

While Brussels may have the best of intentions for night trains, some countries just aren’t working together and red tape is rife. In just two examples, as OBB’s Haunold points out, locomotives must be changed at the German border to comply with local standards, while Belgium insists that doors can only open for disembarkation on one side. In short, more cross-border co-operation is required. “What is needed is a timetable that is co-ordinated throughout Europe,” she told a seminar this year. Other operators complain about cross-border tax complications such as VAT, something airline passengers don’t have to pay.

Arriving in style: Austria’s ÖBB entice new Nightjet passengers to “dream now and enjoy tomorrow”

Another factor in the near demise of the night train was the need for speed. Both passengers and rail companies everywhere became excited about flagship superfast trains hurtling through the countryside at 200-300km/h. Before 1965 when Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train started slashing travel times between cities by half, overnight rail in the basic “blue sleepers” was common. Today there’s only one surviving night train in all of Japan, the Sunrise Express serving two destinations out of Tokyo. However, berths are so popular, especially the private cabins, that it’s essential to book well in advance.

Today’s night trains are a definite improvement on those of yesteryear. The new operators are improving the experience: mini-suites with individual toilets and showers, more comfortable beds, working facilities, quieter carriages, high-quality bars and food. Passengers are happy to pay a premium for this level of comfort, with tickets prices roughly pitched at the equivalent of a night in a four-star hotel, including travel. All that’s required now is for EU-wide regulators to get together so that costs and complexity can be reduced.


Selwyn Parker is an independent journalist and author of Chasing the Chimney Sweep about the first Tour de France of 1903.


The International Transport Forum’s Decarbonising Transport initiative promotes carbon-neutral mobility to help stop climate change. It provides decision makers with tools to select CO2 mitigation measures that deliver on their climate commitment. Learn more

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My year of train-bragging

In 2019, ITF shipping expert Olaf Merk decided to live up to his own recommendations on cutting transport CO2. So for all his professional trips, he tried to avoid air travel and use the train instead. Did he manage, and what did he learn?

By Olaf Merk

For many years I was a frequent flyer, with an average of 35 trips annually. Then three things happened: Greta showed how to walk the talk; I had an accident that made it impossible for me to take a plane for four months; and Paris suffered a record heat wave that once again illustrated the urgency.

It was time to live up to my own recommendations. As a transport expert, I have been advocating drastic reductions of transport CO2 for a long time.  Now I decided I would no longer take the plane for travels within Europe.  And so, of the 17 international trips I took for my work in 2019 (of which 16 were within Europe), I made 13 by train.

What did I learn from this?

Welcome to your comfort zone

The first lesson: taking the train instead of a plane is not that hard. Expect more space and more freedom to move around. Some trains also have very pleasant dining cars. On a more metaphysical level, train travel offers the feeling to be connected to the countries that you cross. You are actually travelling, not just being moved from one place to another.

Of course, a train ride often takes longer. To get from Paris to Copenhagen took me 15 hours, and 11 hours to Rome. The links could be faster – astonishingly, relatively few European capitals are directly connected by rail connections.  

And there are quite a lot of weak links: taking the train to Copenhagen meant in practice taking three different trains, a ferry and a bus. It would have taken me two full days to get to Tallinn by train and bus from Paris, so I decided to fly instead. My excuses for the other non-train trips also somehow illustrate the vulnerabilities of train travel: a national strike and flooded rail tracks in southern France.

Travel longer, lose less time

Trains take longer, but I did not have to waste time going shuttling to and from airports. For obvious reasons most airports are located outside most cities, far from where you need to be, whereas train stations almost always lead directly to city centres. No need either to factor in time to work my way through gigantic airport shopping centres.

Changing trains is also less time-consuming than changing plane, too – not to mention that trains (usually) don’t require queuing at the security check or for boarding. Of course a ten-hour train journey wears me down. But, on balance, I find it is less stressful than air travel. The prospect of spending more than a working day travelling – even if you can actually work more effectively during train travel than during flights – makes you think twice whether you really need to make this trip, or whether tele-conferencing would not be a better option.

The price is not right

Lesson number three is that the price is not right. The main drawback of train travel is that it is often more expensive than travelling by plane. There are some noticeable counter-examples, but not enough. And as an employee, I am obliged to pick the most economical travel option – and in that logic, train travel involves extra costs that the organisation I work for needs to avoid. The same is the case for many other organisations.

I paid the difference in price between the train ticket and what an airline would have charged me. But I fear we cannot depend on the altruism of frequent flyers to see a massive shift to rail.

Bragging is contagious

The nicest part of train bragging is that it is contagious. There is a whole online community of co-braggers that are more than happy to support their peers. And so your example might well inspire others. I was excited when a German executive told me about his own shift to train travel a few months after I had shared with him my own conversion. All these small behavioural changes are starting to become visible at the macro-level: in countries like Sweden and Germany, air travel volumes in 2019 were down.

Yet, not everyone was equally enthusiastic: I also encountered sceptics when I outed myself. Some denied that planes have bigger carbon footprint than trains. Just to get this out of the way: in almost all circumstances, train travel is less carbon intensive than air travel. In the parts of Europe where trains are still dirty, they can be electrified; and electricity is becoming quickly cleaner in Europe. This in contrast to aviation: there are no immediate solutions to reduce aviation emissions except reduced demand. The most direct option that frequent flyers have to limit their carbon footprint is to fly less and shift to rail travel.

Picking up speed

What is my personal conclusion? Employers should encourage staff to travel less, and if they have to travel, travel by train. The costs of greenhouse gas emissions should be taken into account in the price comparison of travel modes, not as an afterthought via a carbon offset from a separate budget. Ideally, it should also cover other climate change impacts, such as radiative forcing, high for aviation. Employers should also make sure that flights for work reasons won’t be counted towards personal frequent flyer cards, which will incentivise their staff to fly more.

Train operators can also do better. More attention to customer service rather than on stacking as many people as possible in a train will make train journeys more attractive. They can improve service in train stations for frequent travellers; maybe develop a pan-European frequent rail traveller programme. There is huge potential in better integration of rail services with airports and aviation networks, too. Some airlines have started to realise this.

Competition among railway operators also helps, as do governments committed to a modal shift towards rail. They should accelerate the upgrading of missing links: I found Hamburg-Copenhagen, Lyon-Turin and railway connections to the Baltic states a pain. In parallel to investing in high-speed rail, governments should close loop-holes that keep the price of flying so low – aviation fuel, for instance, is not taxed at all.

If I can take the train most of the time, I guess almost everyone else can. After one year of bragging I know one thing for certain: The train with destination “low-emission transport” has left the station. For now, its pace is accelerating but still too slow. Together we can turn it into a high-speed train.

“Digitalization is a key enabler to even higher safety standards”

troger-wordpress
Laurent Troger, President of Bombardier Transportation, talks about the impact of digitization on the safety and security of rail and associated costs, harmonisation of technical and legal standards, and industry risks.

“We always put safety first, no exceptions. Now more than ever we believe that our relentless evolution of technical safety is a vital prerequisite for successful mobility solutions. Digitalization is a key enabler to safety standards in the transportation industry. This is for the benefit of rail operators, passengers and society”, Laurent Troger.


 

Safety and security are obviously very important in transport, but ensuring them carries significant costs. How can operators and manufacturers make mobility safer and more secure while keeping it affordable?

Rail manufacturers have shown that competition and innovation can deliver the safety standards we need at the price we want. For example, as the technology used to develop autonomous vehicles matures, its price drops and Bombardier is already applying those technologies to our rail vehicles. One example is our system to detect obstacles, a cost-effective breakthrough that exponentially improves tram safety. Taken overall, rail is still a very affordable mobility option. The capital costs for a new train account for around one third of its full lifetime cost and today’s trains are safer, more energy efficient, more reliable and easier to maintain then they have ever been.

Technical and legal standards play a huge role in making transportation safe and secure. From the global player’s perspective, where is more harmonisation needed to further improve safety and security?

We have made great progress with the existing European regulations supported by European standards and a single EU-wide authorisation process. These measures have already reduced costs and removed persistent administrative barriers. Signalling standards such as ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) and ETCS (European Train Control System) are also positive achievements that we should be proud of, but are something we still need to build upon.

However, one area where I do see a need to maintain our focus on harmonization is in cyber security. Bombardier is working with other manufacturers, operators, authorities and assessment organizations to create a single, coherent set of safety standards. As critical infrastructures, the cyber security of the entire rail ecosystem’s technical integrity needs to be a focal point in the years ahead. Everyone from manufacturer and operator to the owner and the authority has a significant role to play in ensuring our rail systems aren’t compromised.

Do you see digitalisation and innovation as increasing the safety of rail mobility? Or do you view them as risks?

Digitalization is already improving security. Due to the relative affordability of advanced sensors, manufacturers are leveraging the power of mobility innovations for rolling stock services. This implies predictive maintenance or communication based train control for signalling. Both have increased safety and reduced the potential for human error while improving efficiency. Of course, the Internet of Things, interconnectivity and the potential integration of personal devices into operator’s platforms do present new challenges. But they are challenges that we will mitigate with cyber security solutions like the introduction of faster and more robust telecommunications – for example the Long-Term Evolution, hi-speed wireless standard for signalling infrastructure. It might not be easy to address these new challenges as they emerge, but it’s certainly not impossible. Either way, Bombardier chooses to see digitalization as an advantage and an opportunity.

Laurent Troger will join other transport leaders from across the globe for the ITF 2018 Summit on “Transport Safety and Security” in Leipzig, Germany held from 23 to 25 May. Find out more…

“The future of transport is electric”

Jochen Eickholt Siemens Mobility CEOJochen Eickholt, the CEO of Siemens Mobility, talks about electric highways and bus networks and creating cities full of sensors that link up cars with their surroundings.


One of your projects at Siemens is electrifying motorways, so electric trucks can be used for long-distance freight, without even requiring batteries. Why are you convinced that the “eHighway”, as you call it, is the future of road freight?

Transport remains the last sector where fossil fuel dependency has not been substantially mitigated, making it a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. Electric mobility offers a variety of benefits here, including improved local air quality, fuel diversification into renewable sources to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and increased energy efficiency to lower operating costs. The eHighway combines resource-efficient railway technology with the flexibility of road transport.

How does this work in practice?

The adapted hybrid trucks are supplied with electricity from overhead contact lines. An active pantograph can automatically connect and disconnect with the contact line at speeds up to 90 km/h. The direct transmission of electric energy ensures an outstanding efficiency of 80 to 85 per cent from substation in-feed to the wheel. This is twice as high as that of conventional diesel engines. The eHighway also makes it possible to recover braking energy and store it on-board. It can also feed other trucks operating on the system or even feed the electricity back into the public grid. These energy savings translate into even higher system efficiency, lower emissions, and lower energy consumption. High efficiency is the backbone of future road freight transport as well as decarbonisation.

Talking about electric mobility, would you agree that it will play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of  passenger transport?

The future of transport is electric, whether by rail or by road.  For metros, light rail and high-speed trains  electrification has been established for many years as a way to ensure highest energy efficiency while  minimizing local emissions. With the ongoing electrification of railroads all over the world, rail traffic has become increasingly emission free. According to a recent study by the International Railway Union (UIC), rail is the most emissions-efficient major transport mode. Electric trains powered by renewable energy can offer practically carbon-free journeys and transport.

In cities, eBuses will play a role similar to the one I just described for the eHighway and hybrid-driven trucks. They offer the same advantages -energy efficiency, local zero emissions and, thanks to modern control systems, an improved travel experience for passengers. This is why they are in a good position to help satisfy the increasing demand for sustainable transport solutions in cities at a time when growing transport volumes and limited expansion possibilities for transport routes pose ever more serious problems.

What kind of innovations do engineers have in store to make electrified public transport a regular sight?

It is possible for instance to equip buses with a flexible Offboard High Power Charger, which adds considerable flexibility to eBus services. The buses need to stop at the charging station only for a few minutes. The system is ideal for high-frequency operations, since the charging infrastructure can be used by several buses per hour. It would even work if the vehicles were produced by different manufacturers. This is no scenario for the distant future; in fact the system’s practical feasibility in daily operation is already being demonstrated – for instance in Vienna, Gothenburg or Hamburg.

Offboard High Power charger
Offboard High Power Charger in Hamburg (Photo: Siemens)

Everyone is talking about self-driving vehicles. What is your take on autonomous driving?

The next step in the evolution of green, safe and efficient public transport on roads will be self-driving shuttle buses. At present there are several pilot projects under way, in areas such as university campuses and still operating with a driver as a back-up. Over the long run, electric-powered self-driving cars will be the new norm for individual and shared traffic in our cities. They are safe, emission-free and silent. But there is still a long way to go – infrastructures are not ready for that phase yet.

 

Cr2X screenshot

What needs to happen in terms of infrastructure?

 

Today, self-driving cars run well only under certain conditions,-  in a controlled environment and when the weather is right. The sensors fail when it rains or snows; and they also fail when the sun is too bright. And even though they already are quite powerful, sensors can’t see around the corner or through an object that is blocking the sensors sight. Today, the human driver serves as a “redundancy system” that makes up for these defects. But without someone at the wheel, the self-driving car would have only one option: to switch to safe mode in uncertain situations. This is not acceptable, because it means having to reduce speed radically or even stopping. Neither alternative is compatible with traffic regulations and the requirement not to hinder the flow of traffic. And, even worse, passengers wouldn’t accept driving in a slow and stuttering vehicle.

Overcoming these restrictions first of all needs a different perspective. We need to move from a car-centered approach to a systemic approach. There have to be sensors not only in the cars, but on the road as well to monitor and process what’s going on there – and communicate what they see to the cars. Similarly, cars need to communicate with one another and with the infrastructure around them. The combination of  complementary roadside sensor networks, a reliable real-time communication network such as 5G, and autonomous electric-powered cars will form a systemic transport net for future cities. But without the appropriate infrastructure, such a vision will remain  science fiction.


Jochen Eickholt leads the Mobility Division of global engineering giant Siemens AG. He studied electrical engineering at Aachen Technical University in Germany and Imperial College London, UK. He was appointed CEO of the Rail Automation Business Unit in 2009 and became CEO of the Mobility Division in 2012. On 31 May 2017 he will join ministers and other leaders for a discussion of  “The governance of transport in the digital economy” in the opening plenary of  ITF’s 2017 Summit on “Governance of Transport”

 

“We must reinvent mobility”

Michael_Cramer square CroppedMichael Cramer of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport talks about the imbalance between transport modes and the lessons from “Dieselgate”.


A lot of innovation is happening in transport right now – headlines about self-driving cars and electric vehicles abound. Are we finally on the path towards sustainable mobility?

Cramer: Billions are still invested in forms of mobility that ruin our climate. And it’s still all about cars. Without reinventing mobility we will not be able to stop climate change. A veteran German politician, former Munich mayor Hans-Jochen Vogel, said it well as early as 1972: “Cars are murdering our cities. Those who sow streets will harvest traffic”. Even if one day all cars will be electric, they will still be murdering our cities. When all cars are self-driving, they will still be murdering our cities. We must reduce emissions, sure. But it’s not only about energy efficiency, we must also reinvent mobility as a whole. 90% of car rides in German cities are shorter than 6 kilometers. These are ideal distances to go by tram, bus, bicycle or to walk. Electric cars are being subsidized with billions of Euros – indiscriminately, regardless of the real effect. By comparison, peanuts are given to support the use of electric bicycles or of cargo bikes, where they could have a real impact – cargo bikes could take over half of inner-city deliveries. Neither is there enough investment into the electrification of rail. The interests of car manufacturing are still dominating policy decisions.

But all car companies are busy rethinking their business models. Most are taking a broader view and branch out into areas like Mobility as a Service. Is your description not outdated?

The car industry must change much faster if it really wants to avoid the fate of the large energy utilities. Those ridiculed renewable energies for decades and now find themselves rather wrong-footed. Edzard Reuter, who was boss of Daimler-Benz from 1987 to 1995, warned thirty years ago that car manufacturers would only survive if by evolving into providers of mobility. In those days, Daimler-Benz not only built cars but

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“It’s still all about cars” (Photo: Oran Viriyincy)

also trucks, busses, trams, light rail trains, high-speed trains and even bicycles. His successor sold all those activities. Today, automotive companies are completely dependent on car sales, while they could have profited from the global boom in trams and light rail, for instance. I don’t see much innovation coming from big players who can hardly budge; it will be small and agile companies that plant the seeds of change.

What about the institutions that set the rules under which innovations either thrive or fail – do governments and regulatory agencies also need to become a little more agile?

Let me be a little cynical: No, they really don’t need additional agility. They need to discover what it means to be agile in the first place. One way of becoming more flexible, reactive and creative is to listen less to lobbyists. Take the “Dieselgate” scandal. We Green members of the European Parliament had to go to enormous lengths to get an inquiry going into the tempering with emissions tests. This inquiry has found EU member states and the European Commission guilty of negligence. The committee of inquiry proposed to set up an independent body with responsibility for controlling vehicle emissions. The Parliament’s transport committee, which I shared at the time, voted for this proposal as well. But it was  subsequently killed in the parliament by organised interests who lobbied deputies with the spectre of job losses in their region.

 

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Cycling freaks (Photo: ITF)

What is the lesson from that for you, as a policy maker?

It is hard to stomach that Diesel is still subsidised in many countries, despite being much more harmful in terms of NOx, NO2 and particular matter than standard petrol. Half a million people die as a result of particular matter, NOx and NO2 emissions every year in the European Union. Imagine our drinking water would be polluted like that – there would be immediate action. Not for the air we breathe. Europe’s political institutions – the Council, the Commission, and the European Parliament – must work harder. If after this criminal fraud we can’t abolish subsidies for Diesel, we shouldn’t even be using the word “sustainability”.

Ultimately, are you an optimist or a skeptic regarding the future of human mobility?

A bit of both. We have all the opportunities in the world. When I started out in politics, I was treated as a freak because I advocated cycling as a mode of transport. But it is now a reality. In Copenhagen more than 50% of all inhabitants cycle to work. In Berlin, the number of cyclists has doubled over the past ten years, and without major policy interventions. People will do what is right, and that is my hope.


 

Michael Cramer is Member of the European Parliament for the Green Party.  He chaired the Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism from 2014-17 and remains on the committee. Cramer also heads the parliamentary platform “Rail Forum Europe” and initiated the 10 000 km-long Iron Curtain Bicycle Trail from the Baltic to the Black Sea. On 2 June he will discuss new business models in transport and  the role for authorities with other experts at ITF’s 2017 Summit on “Governance of Transport”. Part of the Summit programme is a bicycle tour led by the mayor of Leipzig.