Global rail supply industry worth €159 billion, steady growth forecasted

17 October 2016 4 min. read

The global rail supply industry has enjoyed robust growth on the back of urbanisation and focus on sustainable transportation networks. A new report finds that the market, which is valued at around €159 billion, is set to grow by 2.6% growth annually up to 2021. Particularly Western Europe will see robust growth rates, at 3.1% per year.

A new report from Roland Berger, titled ‘World Rail Market Study’, commissioned by the European Rail Industry Association (UNIFE), considers the state of the global rail supply industry. The industry spans the development of infrastructure, such as tracks; rolling stock, such as locomotives and wagons; signalling systems; and related services.

Global rail supply industry market volume 2013 to 2015

Rail supply market volumes

The study finds that the rail supply industry continues to, and will continue to, enjoy robust growth. The industry as a whole had market volume of €159 billion between 2013 and 2015. Services represent the largest market segment at €61.4 billion, followed by rolling stock at €36.6 billion. Infrastructure and rail control systems account for around €43.7 billion. In terms of growth across the period, rolling stock and rail control systems are out ahead, with growth of 5.8% and 4.9% respectively.

The industry is, according to the firm’s analysis, benefitting from urbanisation. Expanding metropolitan areas and shifts towards sustainable transportation options have seen a rise in the number of railway projects, while new railway management technologies improve track utilisation and safety. Increasing demand from sub-Saharan Africa, too, is set to increase long term demand for goods and services from the rail supply industry.

Rolling stock growth

Globally, installed railway tracks grew by 26,000 km in the 2013 to 2015 period, primarily within urban areas and as intercity high-speed tracks. The Asia-Pacific region saw the bulk of the additional tracks laid, particularly in China and India. Rolling stock saw absolute growth of 32,000 units between 2013 and 2015, of which 22,000 new units began operating across the Asian-Pacific region. Freight cars saw only a slight uptick of 2.7%, to 6.1 million units.

According to Andreas Schwilling, Partner in Roland Berger’s Transportation Competence Center, "Rail vehicle manufacturers were among the key players to profit from record sales in engines and freight cars and from numerous major contracts in other areas like metros, trams, regional trains and high-speed trains."

Global market growth trajectory

Global growth

Growth rates across the total market volume, according to the firm’s analysis, are projected to average 2.6% CAGR until 2021. Considerable regional differences are marked, however, with Western Europe set to enjoy the most robust growth of 3.1%, while the CIS region will have the lowest level of growth at 0.9%. The Asia-Pacific region will see growth in line with the global average, while Africa and the Middle East are set to enjoy above average growth of 3%. Rolling stock and services are, according to the analysis, set to contribute 68% of growth between them. The focus on developing more sustainable transportation methods particularly in urban areas, the firm explains, will continue to be a major driver of market growth.

"This study confirms that the attractiveness of rail transport as a reliable and efficient means of travel is steadily rising," says Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE. "Megatrends like population growth and the global increase in urbanisation will ensure that the demand for rail investments will continue to grow, especially in urban areas. Nevertheless, UNIFE is concerned by the decline in market accessibility across the globe and especially in certain Asian markets which are slowly closing to outside suppliers,” he adds.