Rail solutions for the daily commute

Rail solutions for the daily commute

Moving high volumes of commuters every day is a huge pressure on city authorities across Asia. This article looks at features and considerations for three urban mobility solutions…


Rail system technology selection

Three major considerations when choosing any rail system are capacity, cost and time to build. Metro systems provide the highest capacity, moving more than 50,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) on a single line. Monorail typically provides capacity up to 40,000 pphpd and APM’s have a similar capacity range to monorail.

Metro is typically installed underground which requires greater investment because of the high cost of tunnelling. Tunnelling also requires more construction time than building an elevated system. Of course metro systems can be elevated but they will need a larger guideway structure which requires higher investment than monorail beams. A monorail guideway can be constructed much faster than an elevated metro or other elevated rail systems because the beams can be fabricated off site. Monorail has an outstanding iconic look and its noise level is low because of use of rubber-tired technology. Monorail can negotiate smaller curves which enable it to go around existing buildings easily. Those urban-fit features can make monorail a good choice of technology for those cities requiring an elevated solution.

APM systems have a similar capacity range to monorail. APM also uses rubber-tire technology and it can negotiate even smaller curves. A key difference is that the civil structure of an APM’s guideway is larger than a monorail’s guideway. APM’s were first implemented in the 1970s in airports but they are also a credible choice for urban transit with their high reliability and availability. Bombardier has installed two urban BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM systems in Asia as well as various airport systems. The first urban installation was in Singapore serving as a feeder line in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang districts, connecting to rapid transit stations, bus interchanges, local recreational facilities, commercial complexes and schools. The second urban APM system is installed in Guangzhou, China, where it provides quick connections between the underground metro network and the Tianhe business and trade area. Since the APM operates on an exclusive guideway, unhampered by automobiles and pedestrian traffic, passengers arrive punctually at their destination.

For medium to high capacity transit requirements installed quickly without tunnelling costs, monorail is a good choice. It can also enhance the appeal of the city. For very high capacity, an underground metro is undoubtedly the best solution. An elevated metro system would help to reduce construction costs but noise and aesthetics would need to be considered by the city to ensure that local residents are not adversely affected. For highest capacity and larger budgets that can afford tunnelling, go for metro. For medium to high capacity, choose a monorail. Care must be always be taken to construct lines that have enough capacity to meet long-term demand.

‘Technology and innovation provide the keys to solving the capacity challenge in cities’, says Emma Brett, from rail technology leader, Bombardier Transportation. In recent years, the company has substantially invested in developing innovative solutions for urban mobility. Results include a mass transit Monorail system, an Automated People Mover (APM) system suited to urban applications as well as a new high capacity Metro platform. Integrating these trains with the latest driverless signalling technology as part of a rail system enables the full capacity and efficiency of the railway to be realized.

High capacity for growing cities 

With more than 7,000 metro cars in operation all over the world, you could wonder why Bombardier has invested in another metro product platform. However, the world’s enthusiasm for metro systems is continuing to grow and this can be attributed to growing urban populations and national public transport investment programmes that fund mass transit projects. According to the UITP, by late 2014, there were 157 cities with metro systems across the world, with 53 added since 2000 and in 2016, some 2,710 kilometres of metro lines are under construction. This trend for metros is expected to continue, especially in Asia. As an example, the government of India is encouraging cities of over two million citizens to develop mass transit systems. This translates into a healthy market for approximately 3,000 metro cars in the next five years for India alone.

Metro networks are unrivalled in terms of high capacity and convenience. Bombardier metros are renowned all over the world for their appealing designs, attractive lighting concepts, safety features and spacious interiors as demonstrated in London, Singapore and Delhi: The BOMBARDIER MOVIA Maxx high capacity metro is no exception. This new modular and flexible metro platform was recently launched to the global rail industry at the InnoTrans 2016 trade fair in Berlin and is designed to meet high ridership demand.

The affordability of a metro system is, more than ever, a vital precondition. Low lifecycle costs are part of the MOVIA Maxx metro’s appeal with consideration given to best value for money in terms of passenger capacity, acquisition costs, energy consumption, reliability and availability. Large passenger loads are this metro’s key strength. Capacity is up to 374 passengers per car, that’s almost 3,000 passengers per eight-car train. A scalable car body design concept enables this train to be easily adapted to system infrastructure without extensive reengineering. Fast and efficient connectivity is essential for speeding up journey times for passengers. Up to four wide doors per side improve dwell time at stations. Proven energy efficient propulsion technology enables rapid acceleration and deceleration for fast journey times.

The MOVIA Maxx metro is a robust solution designed to revolutionise commuting in Asia’s cities and meeting the need for people to travel around their cities quickly, efficiently and comfortably.

Trend for driverless

Southeast Asia has played, and continues to play, an important role in adopting driverless transit systems. For example, capital cities Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are in the world’s top 10 cities in terms of the most kilometers of automated rail systems in urban applications.

Driverless systems are possible due to the automation of three key sub-systems: Train Protection, Train Operation and Train Control. Driverless technology improves the efficiency of the operating railway, reduces energy consumption, provides economic benefits and increases passenger safety by removing the risk of human error. In a fully-automated driverless transit system, the entire rail system is automatically controlled by the train control system at all times meaning that no drivers or onboard attendants are required for train operation. Bombardier’s CITYFLO 650 communication based train control (CBTC) system is proven technology for a fully automatic, driverless rail system. It is already installed on rail systems in Asia and across the world.

Driverless technology is one urban innovation that is reaching a new level of maturity and it is now seen as the most practical choice for today’s urban mass transit systems. In operation in more than 25 of the world’s major cities, and installed as an essential element of many metro, monorail and APM systems, the public are now used to their daily commute on automatic trains that run incident-free day in and day out.

Jayaram Naidu, Head of South East Asia Sales & Marketing, Bombardier Transportation


2016-11-30T12:31:54+00:00 December 1st, 2016|DECEMBER 2016|