Cities turn to railways
The Asia-Pacific region is undergoing a boom in urban railway construction as planners bid to relieve congestion in crowded cities, said R. Gopal, vice-president of Frost & Sullivan, an international consultancy.
'Some Asia-Pacific cities suffer chronic congestion, where the road system is heavily over-utilised. Urban rail systems are aimed at addressing these congestion issues,' he said.
As a result, investment in the urban rail market in the region exceeded US$50 billion last year and was expected to grow to US$90 billion by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan.
'Asia-Pacific countries such as China, India, Vietnam and South Korea are in the high-growth phase of rail planning and infrastructure development,' said Gopal.
In Frost & Sullivan's study of 10 cities, Shanghai emerged as the city with the highest growth in passenger numbers. Its number of urban rail passenger journeys is expected to grow from 1.3 billion in 2009 to 2.78 billion in 2020, overtaking Hong Kong, where urban rail passenger journeys are expected to rise from 1.52 billion in 2009 to 1.65 billion in 2020.
The 10 cities studied were Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Brisbane and Ho Chi Minh City.
In a top 10 rating of cities for their attractiveness for urban rail investment, Mumbai rated top with a score of 4.3 out of 5, while Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City tied for second place at 4.2. The rating criteria included population growth, per capita income and urbanisation, as well as infrastructure investment.