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Advances in rail and metro transport pinned on technology


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Bridge the gap: China is pushing ahead with the huge investment needed to cope with rising demand for new rail lines

Congestion is costing the world’s biggest cities billions of dollars a year and the problem will get worse with the percentage of the population living in urban areas set to jump from half to 70 per cent by 2050.

This trend means that public transport is in vogue like never before at a time when advances in mobile communications promise a fundamental shift in the way we manage our journeys.

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The impact on the global economy of increasingly snarled-up cities is huge. A study by Roland Berger, the consultancy, estimates that in the world’s 30 biggest conurbations the economic and social cost of congestion is more than $266bn a year. It forecasts the problems are only going to get worse, with 180,000 people a day moving to big cities.

More than half the planet’s population lives in cities and over the next 40 years that number is likely to reach 6bn, with the largest cities in emerging markets growing the fastest.

In the developed world, the big difficulty for transport authorities in cities such as London and New York is how to modernise and expand ageing infrastructure in an urban environment where space is at a premium.

In the emerging nations, where mass migration to cities is putting an increasing strain on the limited public transport networks (mostly buses, as more and more vehicles clog the roads) the focus is on embracing more efficient ways of moving millions of people. This has meant a proliferation of new metro and tram networks.
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