Swiss Railways launches 2020 strategy to comply with the new technologies

Customers’ mobility needs are changing, new suppliers are coming onto the market and digitalisation and automation are creating new opportunities, but also new challenges. Thus, keeping the pace with new technologies and integrating them into the business is a must for the railways in order to compete with other sectors. Swiss Railways sets another example of being innovative, once again.

It will be challenging for rail transport to develop as fast as road transport, given the long lead times. However, the integrated railway in the age of the “Internet of Things” has the opportunity to advance its system component with digitalisation and new technologies faster than other carriers.
With its 2020 strategy, Swiss Railways (SBB) is setting the course for the mobility of the future. SBB expressed the desire to remain a strong railway company as well as a reliable mobility service provider and development partner. It is combining the strengths of the railway with the potential of new technology, leading to innovations such as new services for door-to-door journeys, digital stations, smart freight cars and even capacity increases thanks to enhanced railway technology. SBB showcased innovation projects from the Passenger,  Freight and Rail Infrastructure divisions.
A total of CHF 22 billion (EUR 20 billion) will be invested in the rail system from 2016 to 2020.
Clients expect increasingly customised, intermodal, networked and simple mobility and logistics solutions. And they want the service to be both digital and personal. They justifiably expect their mobility data to be handled in a trustworthy manner. At stations, customers appreciate the optimised transfer connections between all modes of transport and the appealing range of services.
At the same time, the competition between rail and road transport is intensifying. In contrast, the overall system costs of the railway are rising and new technology is accelerating developments on the mobility market.
SBB believes that digitalisation will enable it to increase capacity on a network, which it claims is already the most heavily used in the world, by up to 30%. To achieve this, SBB is furthering the automation of timetable creation, rail operations and train control and is also looking into the possibility of remote-controlled trains. SBB is designing a new digital signalbox which will reduce the quantity and variety of signalling installations, thereby cutting costs substantially.

High level of efficiency

As a strong railway, Swiss Railways are concentrating on the unique selling points of the rail sytem as large transport capacity over small areas in urban centres, a high level of efficiency without congestion on long routes, with large volumes and regular traffic and being the backbone of the public transport and logistics system.
Swiss Railways will concentrate on targeted innovations and investments in attractive offers to increase the attractiveness of the railway system, the reduction of overall system costs, the exapansion of the mobility chain in cooperation with the public transport sector.
SBB’s strategy is based on the “mobility of the future” scenario and the ARE’s (Federal Office for Spatial Development) reference scenario as a growth target. It assumes a growth of plus 51% from 2010 to 2040 in railway passenger transport and plus 45% in railway freight traffic.

by Elena Ilie

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