The global autonomous train market size was valued at USD 7.87 billion in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 13.08 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 5.81% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Trains have been at the vanguard of transportation automation after roads in terms of electrification, which has contributed to the development of automated transport techniques across the global transportation business. In the mining and heavy-haul industries, where long lengths might occasionally reach 2000 km or more, automated locomotives are a competitive alternative to the current diesel locomotives. The majority of regions and large nations see autonomous trains favorably. However, the degree of automation is typically determined by local legislation, which can occasionally impose limits on automation and decrease the possibility for progress in railway automation.
Simultaneously, the present railway operators may be pushed toward automation by the growing need for efficiency and safety. Even though the railway industry is still in the early stages of automation, it is difficult for new businesses to enter the market, leaving it to established players like Hitachi, Thales Group, Mitsubishi, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, among others. This is attributable to the research and development of equipment that can meet international quality and safety automation standards that require significant investments. With the increase in traffic congestion in urban centers around the world, there is a strong need to develop faster, more efficient, and more dependable transportation systems. At the same time, technological advancements and their integration with transportation systems, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, are expected to support market growth over the upcoming years. Likewise, the railway sector is undergoing a revolution driven by new digital technologies like 5G, big data, the Internet of Things, automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
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High Demand for Rapid Transit and Demand for Digitalization of Railways
Since increasing rail traffic necessitates continuous use of safety systems, rising railway budgets worldwide are anticipated to aid in expanding this market. As the number of railways worldwide rises, autonomous technologies are expected to enter the market. Furthermore, there will be opportunities for market expansion throughout the anticipated period due to improvements in railway infrastructure, particularly in emerging nations, and a rise in freight transfer by train.
Rising Preference for Other Modes of Transportation Due to the High Cost
There is some degree of rivalry amongst one another in most metropolitan areas with various means of transportation. The alternative means of transport that compete with rail transportation include bus transit, ride-hailing, ride-sharing, and personal commuting. The bus rapid transit (BRT) system is a bus-based public transportation system that was created to increase capacity and dependability over the traditional bus system.
A BRT system features bus-only lanes on public streets. Buses are given priority in junctions where they share the road with other vehicles. This has the effect of increasing productivity and decreasing delays. The market for rail transportation is being challenged by various means of transportation, including bus transit, vehicle hailing, trip sharing, and individual commuting. Compared to the traditional bus system, the bus rapid transit system is a bus-based public transportation system developed to increase capacity and dependability. Bus-only lanes are a part of a BRT system.
The global autonomous train market is segmented by automation grade, application, technology, and region.
By automation grade, the global autonomous train market is classified into GoA1, GoA2, GoA3, and GoA4.
The GoA4 segment holds the largest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.86% during the forecast period. The GoA4 grade, the most recent to be used in autonomous trains, is the market segment expected to grow at the fastest rate because GoA4-equipped autonomous trains are entirely automatic. Many businesses are working to develop automated train operations, including Shift2Rail. Shift2Rail deals with automated train operations (ATO) in light of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which will further expand and modernize the train throughout Europe. The GoA4 train trials are anticipated to start in 2022 as the GoA4 implementation program is soon to be completed.
In practice, there are numerous grades for train operations; GoA1 is the oldest and most prevalent train grade worldwide. The system has automatic train protection together with manual actions. Today, the GoA1 system is installed in 99% of the trains. As manufacturers shift to new technologies that are elevating autonomous trains to new levels from the driving and safety perspectives, demand for the GoA1 is steadily dropping as autonomous train activity increases. Such elements could restrict GoA1's expansion soon.
Another grade employed in autonomous trains is GoA2, outfitted with semi-automatic train operations, i.e. (STO). For the past 40 years, urban areas have been using GoA2. Since 1991, GoA2 has been used in various European countries' railway operations. Several tests for the autonomous train outfitted with GoA2 in May 2021 have been carried out in several nations, including France.
By application, the global autonomous train market is bifurcated into Passenger and Freight.
The Passenger segment stands first in the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.12% during the forecast period. Since passenger trains are the most widely utilized form of public transportation, there is a considerable demand for them worldwide. Currently, rail is one of the most energy-efficient forms of transportation, moving 7% of all freight and 8% of all motorized passengers worldwide while using only 2% of the energy needed for transportation. Driverless passenger trains are being tested all around the world. For instance, Deutsche Bahn and Simens introduced the nation's first autonomous train in October 2021. The train will run in the city of Hamburg. This train is anticipated to provide dependable services without substantially altering the current infrastructure.
The logistics sector faces more significant hurdles due to the evolving global supply chain market, including the mounting need to provide quick and flexible services at competitive prices. In the quickly changing environment, inland canal and road transportation fiercely compete with Freight rail, a situation that may only worsen. The technology startup Proxion intends to test the fully automated freight train by the end of 2021. Freight trains are advancing toward driverless driving. Electricity will power the train.
By technology, the global autonomous train market is categorized into CBTC, ERTMS, ATC, and PTC.
The CBTC segment commands the market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.98% during the forecast period. Communication-based train control (CBTC) leverages telecommunications between track equipment and trains to manage traffic and regulate infrastructure. As opposed to conventional signaling systems, CBTC systems provide a more precise understanding of a train's position. The management of railway traffic is improved in terms of efficiency and safety. Metros and other rail systems can increase headways while preserving or enhancing safety. In today's CBTC systems, the trains constantly compute and radio the wayside equipment placed along the route to update it on their status. The precise location, speed, direction of travel, and braking distance are just a few of the factors included in this status. Calculating the potential area that the train will occupy on the track is made possible by this information.
The European Union has established a set of guidelines for the administration and coordination of railroad signaling called the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). Increasing railway interoperability across the EU is ERTMS' primary goal. It intends to improve rail transport safety, efficiency, and cross-border interoperability in Europe. In Europe, interoperable railroads are made possible by the ERTMS system.
A speed control mechanism that responds to outside inputs is known as automatic train control (ATC) in the context of railroad safety systems. The track circuits used by the digital ATC system to identify the presence of a train in the section then relay digital data from roadside equipment to the train on the track circuit to the next train ahead and the platform at which the train will arrive.
APAC Exceeds the Rest of the World
By region, the global autonomous train market is analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the World.
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Asia-Pacific dominates the global autonomous train market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.06% during the forecast period. One of the largest rail networks in the world is in Asia-Pacific. India, China, and Japan are among the nations with the longest rail lines. Additionally, public transportation is very well-liked in these nations, particularly in India, where many people use the metro for daily commuting. As a result, the railway system is crucial to the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region. Asia-Pacific is distinguished by developed and developing economies, including Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The market in these nations is anticipated to be driven by new rail projects to replace and maintain the current fleet and urban passenger transportation.
Europe holds the second-largest market share and is projected to account for USD 3,922 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.13%. One of the largest rail systems in the world is in Europe. Upcoming railway projects and innovations are driving the European autonomous train market. Traveling by train is quite common in many countries, including Germany. The country's largest cities and villages all have many railway stations, reflecting the popularity of train travel. People prefer to travel by train over other forms of transportation, such as buses. Federal regulation in Germany limits bus peak speeds to 100 km/h (62 mph), but "low-speed" trains can reach 160 km/h (99 mph). These reasons increase the need for railroads in Europe, bolstering the market for autonomous trains there.
Technological advancements in rail transportation accelerate the adoption of autonomous trains in North America. In the United States, the public transportation industry is immature and yet in a growing phase. In addition, Canada has an extensive network and well-established railway system that is utilized for passenger travel and freight transit (the majority of which is freight). The need for autonomous trains is anticipated to develop in the following years due to the increase in passenger and freight transportation, which is expected to result in a considerable rise in the market for autonomous trains in North America.