Cities today face diverse challenges deriving from megatrends like urbanization and population growth, CO2 emission, congestion and high real estate value with limited land availability.
We all love cities. As the lively hubs of commerce and culture, cities naturally attract people. Today’s statistics show that already around 50% of the world’s population lives in, or around a city. By 2050, this proportion could reach around 70%. The implications for mobility are profound if we want to have cities where we can live and people’s transport behaviour is driven by convenience – the convenience of easily accessible, time efficient, affordable, safe and green transport door-to-door. Transit systems are the most efficient and environmentally-friendly way to transport thousands of people quickly, comfortably and directly to their destinations.
CO2 emissions contribute significantly to climate change. The public has recognized this and many countries and cities have committed to meet certain CO2 reduction targets. Rail transportation has existed as a form of electric mobility for more than 100 years and produces significantly lower CO2 emissions than other modes of motorized transport. In Europe, rail contributes only 0.6% of CO2 emission while providing 8% of passenger and 17 of freight transport. In contrast, non-electric automotive transport accounted for 71% of CO2 emissions*.
We waste hours and frustration commuting to the city by car, at the same time congestion in cities is creating significant pollution. According to statistics of INRIX – leading international providers of real-time traffic information – the UK is the third most congested country in the world, with only the Netherlands and Belgium ranking higher for national traffic congestion. Within the UK, Manchester and London rank in the top 10 most congested cities of the world and it is estimated that commuters spend anywhere between 30 and 55 hours of the year – the equivalent of the working week for many of these commuters – stuck in traffic in some of the more congested cities around Europe.
This is a lot of wasted time, which some say is the best asset we have today. The value of extra time to spend relaxing with family and friends is priceless. Even if one drives an electric or hybrid car, despite the ecological benefits, sitting in traffic jams cannot be avoided. Transit systems, in contrast, flow past the congestion and time can be spent constructively, reading, working, or playing with a smartphone.
Inner city real estate is expensive and scarce. Land acquisition – expropriation and appropriation – can be a lengthy, costly and painful process for cities and citizens. The challenge is to optimize the land usage for transport infrastructure in a highly efficient way. Transit solutions use significantly less land while moving an exponential number of people.
Every city is unique: some evolved over time, some are reinventing themselves, some are newly developing – settling in their unique topography and climate. Communities have multiple options for organizing the various functions of life: residential, commercial/business – e.g. employment, shopping, culture, active and passive recreation in parks and sports facilities, public services like schools, libraries, or hospitals. The vertical or horizontal spread of population density determines which mode of transport makes most sense for a given area. For example, in mixed use urban areas people can walk to their grocery store or take the metro to go to the movies while for many residential and commercial areas in a sub-urban setting you need a car to go the shopping mall. The available transport infrastructure shapes the life-style and transport habits of people. The challenge for cities is how to integrate the different modes of transport – from rail, automotive, bicycle and pedestrians into one convenient, easily accessible, time efficient, affordable, safe, green transport system.
The role of the railway industry is to provide integrated transport solutions that blend seamlessly into urban infrastructure and with the various modes of transport into one integrated mobility system As a global technology leader, Bombardier has developed a range of innovative solutions for Ecocities: the BOMBARDIER ECO4 technologies, the BOMBARDIER INNOVIA Monorail 300 Automated Transit System and the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE e-mobility solution.
In developing PRIMOVE, we started with a vision, imagining a city where all the vehicles are electric, emission-free and quiet. No pollution, no fumes, no noise. Yet electric mobility requires a new infrastructure in cities providing convenient and efficient charging facilities.
So we tackled that challenge by looking at ways to fully integrate battery recharging within existing operations. This would mean no extra dwell time, no battery charge level worries, no range anxiety, no need for additional vehicles other than current conventional fleets. We had a vision for one e-mobility technology for all types of rail and road vehicles: trams, buses, cars, taxis and trucks; without catenary , cables, wires, plugs or charging stations – completely invisible and automatic. And from that vision, we created a system that is available now it’s called PRIMOVE.
The electrification of vehicles has traditionally been restricted exclusively to rail but with PRIMOVE different modes of transport can now become emission-free and electric. The groundbreaking system makes urban transport more flexible and convenient than ever before. In combination with its small, light and long-life batteries, PRIMOVE inductive charging enables cities, operators and vehicle manufacturers to truly go for e-mobility. And it’s affordable. By maximizing the concept of fast opportunity charging at very high levels of efficiency, the PRIMOVE system reduces total cost of ownership. Four cities in Europe have already opted for this clean and convenient e-mobility solution. Passengers will be able to enjoy all the benefits of a quiet and CO2-free bus journey as early as the fourth quarter of 2013.
The second solution worth mentioning is the INNOVIA Monorail 300 system, a true game-changing urban transportation solution as it offers multiple benefits such as high capacity (similar to conventional metro), flexibility, minimum land use, fast installation time, aesthetics, comfort and eco-friendliness. In addition, this is a driverless solution optimizing energy consumption, maximizing average speeds, minimizing headways and reducing the opportunity for human error.
The elevated structures with pre-cast beams allow low civil construction costs and fast project implementation with minimum disturbance during the construction period – particularly compared to drilling metro tunnels. It is a solution already being installed in one of the largest cities of the world, Sao Paulo, and the first phase of the 24-km 17 station INNOVIA Monoral 300 is being built and will start operation within 30 months.
Last, but not least, Bombardier has led the sector in the development of environmental technology solutions to enhance the performance of rail products. Rail is already environmentally friendly as a mode of transport, but ECO4 takes the performance a stage further. ECO4 is a portfolio of innovative technologies and solutions that drive all round performance in rail technology through energy, efficiency, ecology and economy. These technologies enable energy savings of up to 50%, reduce CO2 emissions and improve passenger comfort.
Optimized vehicle designs with lightweight aluminum car bodies that improve the weight ratio of the vehicle and passenger capacity. Wider doors and fully walk-through trains that improve passenger flow entering and exiting the trains. Aerodynamically optimized vehicle shaping enables higher acceleration with reduced traveling times. Regenerative braking, onboard and wayside energy storage, ThermoEfficient climatization systems. These are just some of the solutions we are offering to today’s rail operators as part of our product platform.. All these ECO4 features reduce energy consumption significantly.
To conclude, urbanization and population growth, CO2 emission and noise pollution, congestion, as well as the limited availability and high cost of inner city real estate are creating new challenges for cities and are driving a rethink in mobility planning. An integrated systems approach allows infrastructure and energy consumption to be optimized and transport solutions to be provided for city residents exactly where and when they are needed.
Dagmar Blume, Senior Director, Strategy and Sales Governance, Systems division, Bombardier Transportation.
*source: 2008 CO2 emission figures in EU-27 – road transport 83% passenger, 73% freight
**Source: North American Green City Index
BOMBARDIER, ECO4, INNOVIA and PRIMOVE are all trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.