Autonomous trains are becoming extremely popular as trains are the lifeblood of nations, connecting far-flung cities to each other. Trains are faster than cars but less expensive than flights, making them appealing to many passengers. Automation has crept into every aspect of the automotive industry and trains are no exception. The future is predicted to be all about shared, connected, data-driven, and on-demand automotive transport. Autonomous trains, as the name suggests, operate with a minimal or non-existent amount of manual supervision.

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‘Flight-shaming’ Spur Passengers Ditch Flying For Autonomous Train Travel

A need for greater safety, minimizing costs, and improving fuel efficiency are the drivers responsible for uptake in the autonomous trains market. A desire for high-speed travel has caused thousands of accidents in Europe and China. Autonomous trains are considerably safer than their manual counterparts and they can reduce mishaps to a significant degree, explaining their popularity amongst passengers. High-speed rail has become a compelling alternative to short-haul flights, mainly due to concerns around carbon emissions of jetliners. This has spurred governments to pass mandates for track electrification and emission standards. Some trends to keep an eye on in the autonomous trains market include the rise of data analytics, mobility-as-a-service, and shared mobility. Automated rails have already been deployed on secure lines and an effort is now underway to run them on unsecured lines also.

Government Stimulus Packages the Need of the Hour in the Autonomous Trains Market

The world economy continues to reel from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the automotive sector was particularly hard-hit. In 2020, India shut down its rail network during the COVID-19 lockdown – the first time since its inception. Businesses went under, passenger commutes were stopped entirely, and the supply chain faced a huge demand-supply mismatch. The autonomous trains market is predicted to face challenging times in the near future and would require government stimulus packages to get up and running to pre-pandemic levels of traffic.

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APAC Nations Prioritizing Electrification and Autonomation of Railway Infrastructure

Europe and APAC are the most strategic regions to target in the autonomous trains market with the latter spending massive sums to modernize their creaky rail infrastructure. Large emerging APAC countries have recognized the vital role that railways play in their development and are allotting budgetary funds accordingly. India’s government has grabbed international headlines with a promise to spend billions on transforming its railways. Some cities such as Singapore, Paris, and Nuremberg already operate autonomous trains and more are likely to follow in the near future.

Inorganic Growth Characteristic of Players in the Autonomous Trains Market

Companies involved in the autonomous trains market are Alstom, ABB, CRRC Corporation Limited, GE Transportation (acquired by Wabtec), Hitachi Ltd., Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD., Siemens, and Thales Group. Companies are relying on inorganic methods of growth to stay competitive. For e.g. – In 2021, Alston acquired Bombardier, solidifying its lead in the autonomous trains market.

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