Regional and suburban railways
What are regional and suburban railways?
Rail transport is an energy-efficient and capital-intensive means of mechanised land transport. Rails provide very smooth and hard surfaces on which the wheels of the train may roll with a minimum of friction.
Rail transport makes highly efficient use of space: a double-track rail line can carry more passengers or freight in a given amount of time than a four-lane road. As a result, rail transport is a major form of public transport in many countries.
Most prestigious are the high-speed passenger trains but far more important are the regional and commuter services. The latter can be defined as regular non-tourist passenger railway services within a medium-sized territorial and political entity (ie larger than a city and smaller than a country).
Regional and suburban trains run on corridors that are physically separated from other traffic (with at grade crossings at street intersection). The central section can be on an exclusive right-of-way (mainly underground), but branches where traffic is less intense will generally not enjoy full segregation.
Today, with the tendency of urban sprawl and the expansion of the ‘zone of influence of cities’, suburban and regional railways appear as a vital form of public transport provision to cover longer distances (up to 30 km for suburban routes) with higher speed, less frequency and larger distance between stops.
Developments and trends
The first use of ‘rail’ dates back to the sixth century BC, with the first horse-drawn wagon ways appearing 2,000 years ago. The first steam locomotive to operate on rails was built and tried out in 1804. These first railways were private initiatives linking cities to their ‘hinterland’. The use of overhead wires conducting electricity (invented in 1888) led to the development of electrified railways, which are still in use today.
Major issues that dominate the field of regional and suburban railway today include:
- Revitalising railway transport and achieving a modal shift in favour of rail.
- EU directives and railway packages to achieve rail market liberalisation
- Separation of infrastructure and operation, interoperability, access fees, security certificates, interoperability requirements.
- The policy of subsidiarity.
An important recent innovation is the ‘tram-train’ system.
Regional and suburban rail in figures
Regional and suburban rail trips account for 90% of the total number of rail passengers and 50% of the total number of rail passenger kilometres per year.
A typical suburban railway service would include a trip of maximum 15km and less than 30 minutes travel time.
A regional railway service is generally a trip of maximum 70km with a transit time between 30 and 60 minutes.
A recent UITP study in 29 European countries revealed that the sector represents:
- 220 companies
- 360,000 staff members
- EUR 21.7 billion turnover per year
- More than 6.8 billion passengers a year
Capacity of regional and suburban rail: from single-bodied EMU/DMU: 80 pax to push/pull double-decker train sets: 2,500
Suburban and Regional Railways Landscape in Europe
New possibilities for regional passenger railway operators in Europe
Regional railways contracts for the transport of passengers
Relationships between TOCs (Train Operating Companies) and IMCs (Infrastructure Management Companies)
60th UITP WORLD CONGRESS AND EXHIBITION
THE Business Model for tomorrow?
26-30 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Find all information on the event's website
UITP Regional and Suburban Railways Division
Missions and issues List of members Working groups Information for members
The UITP Regional and Suburban Railways Division consists of two bodies:
- the Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly;
- the Regional and Suburban Railways Committee.
The Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly is composed of all UITP full members operating regional and suburban railway lines. The Assembly is a forum for liaison, exchange of knowledge and debate that provides information on all issues related to the planning, financing, construction, operation and management of regional and suburban railways.
The current Chairman of the Regional and Suburban RailwaysAssembly
is Istvan Tömpe, Director Infrastructure Development of MÁV-START, Hungary.
The Committee will defend the interest of and promote public transport by regional and suburban railways. To this aim, it carries out, among others, studies and pilot actions focusing upon the quality of vehicles, the improvement of regional and suburban railways' impact on the environment, efficiency and safety. The Committee shall strive for links and synergies with manufacturers and transport authorities.
The current Chairman of the Regional and Suburban Railways Committee
is Malachy McGreevy, General Manager - Rail Services, Northern Ireland Railways.
CONTACT: Nino ZAMBARA, email
Missions and Issues
2. The Regional and Suburban Railways Committee shall inform the Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly on on-going developments in the industry, on its current themes studied and on the position papers prepared by the Committee and submitted for discussion and approval to the Policy Board.
The Regional and Suburban Railways Division of UITP consists of two bodies:
3. The Assembly notes and discusses the on-going topics studied and the position papers of the Committee.
4. The Assembly can propose candidates for nomination within the Committee to the UITP General Secretariat and to the Committee Chairperson.
5. The Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly is a privileged place to promote UITP activities to potential Regional and Suburban Railways Division members.
The Committee will defend the interest and promote public transport by regional and suburban railways. To this aim, it carries out, among others, studies and pilot actions focusing upon the quality of vehicles, the improvement of regional and suburban railways' impact on the environment, efficiency and safety. The Committee shall strive for links and synergies with manufacturers and transport authorities. The Committee shall inform the Regional and Suburban Railways Assembly of its work on the occasion of Assembly meetings.
To fulfill its mission, the Regional and Suburban Railways Committee will deal with the following issues:
- Railways infrastructure: access and charging (point of view of the operator)
- Specifications for new rolling stock for regional and suburban railways
- Quality of service of regional and suburban railways
- Relationship and contracts between railway operators and organizing authorities
- Intermodality, as seen from a railways perspective (in close co-operation with the Regional Transport Committee)
- Stations : from ordinary stops to multimodal commercial complexes
List of members
See the list of members
- Rail Infrastructure
- Improvement of Rolling Stock Maintenance
Final report “One small step” available for sale here
- Small Stations
- Connect with the world of public transport =RSR=
This project is to foster dialogue and better understand the challenges of Regional and Suburban Railways (RSR) sector, and to discuss on wider range of issues and operators expectation. Following the demands from the local RSR stakeholders (government, authority, operator, etc), RSR Committee sends its members as speakers according to the demanded theme to the On-demand workshop which is hosted by the local RSR stakeholders and which non-UITP members are also welcomed to participate.
CONTACT: Nino ZAMBARA, email