Over the past twelve months, the rail industry has welcomed a wealth of innovation and change, and inevitably, deep challenges.

This special edition opens by underlining just how important urban rail services are for a community, exploring the economic and social challenges an area faces once a rail connection disappears from it.

Earlier this year, a new milestone was reached: the world’s automated metro systems surpassed the 1,000km mark. We mapped out the top systems across the globe.

We also tackled some of the technological wonders across the sector, from cargo tracking to VR in train station design, as well as the best apps to help passengers improve their journey.

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Finally, we looked at the increasing popularity high-speed services enjoy by reviewing the key international routes on which rail takes over the air traffic due to its speed, price and convenience. These, and many more, can be read in our round-up issue of this year’s biggest rail stories.

In this issue

The economic drain: when urban rail disappears
New Yorkers are bracing themselves for the upcoming shutdown of a vital rail link in April 2019. Joe Baker asks, what will the impact be on commuters and local communities?
Read the article here.

Around the world in 1,000km of automated metros
In April this year, the International Association of Public Transport announced that fully automated metros around the world had reached a combined 1,000km in length. Eva Grey explores some of the standout networks across the globe.
Read the article here.

Creating living transport hubs
Railway stations are set to play a pivotal role in the efficient, sustainable smart cities of the future. But what exactly is a ‘smart station’ and how is this concept embodied? Joe Baker finds out.
Read the article here.

Tapping into the top rail apps
Smartphone apps have drastically changed the way passengers purchase tickets, plan journeys and communicate with rail operators. From route planning to train simulators, Joe Baker finds out which rail apps are really improving services for passengers and train enthusiasts.
Read the article here.

There’s no such thing as a free ride
Experiments in several cities across the world have shown that waiving fees on some public transport networks encourages ridership and lowers traffic pollution. Eva Grey asks if free transport could work on a permanent basis.
Read the article here.

Delays ahead for Tokyo’s commuters
The first ever government study into Greater Tokyo rush hour delays revealed issues that don’t fit with the image of Japanese punctuality. So what are the problems facing commuter rail in and around Japan’s capital? Joe Baker reports.
Read the article here.

Designing passenger-friendly stations with virtual reality
CCD Design and Ergonomics have launched an eye-tracking virtual reality tool called Evidentia which allows architects and designers to test human behaviour at the very early stages of design. Elliot Gardner spoke to the company to hear more about how technology works.
Read the article here.

SigmaRail: using drones to map Spanish railways
Spanish tech company SigmaRail has used drones to survey the Alicante-Murcia high-speed line in south-eastern Spain. Joe Baker finds out how drones are helping develop digital railway corridors to validate performance and examine engineering priorities.
Read the article here.

Boosting Thailand’s economy
In March thius year, the Thai Cabinet approved a $7.2bn high-speed rail project that will link two airports in the Bangkok area and another in the eastern province of Rayong. Other high-speed lines are in the offing, but will any come to fruition? Patrick Kingsland investigates.
Read the article here.

Slow trains: The EU’s high-speed network dilemma
While high-speed rail projects continue apace in Asia, Europe lags behind, offering “low-added value”, according to a damning report from the European Court of Auditors. Ross Davies takes a look at what has gone wrong.
Read the article here.

The high-speed rail routes taking on the air industry
Recent analysis found that high-speed trains are proving faster, cheaper and more convenient than flying on certain Asian and European routes. From Beijing to Shanghai and London to Paris, Eva Grey discovers where passengers prefer to take long-distance trains.
Read the article here.

Next issue | January 2019

For our first edition in the new year, we take a look at Egypt’s National Railways and its record-braking order for 1,300 train carriages, to find out what the future holds for the country’s sector after this momentous deal.

In the UK, there are fears that a no-deal Brexit could make Eurostar one of its casualties, with serious disruptions and cancelled services.

We also talk to c2c, recently named the best train operator in the UK at the 2018 National Transport Awards. We profile its award-winning service and find out what others could learn from its way of doing business.

Finally, we round up every method used to clear leaves and debris from the tracks, and take a look at Russia’s Moscow-Kazan project, which will soon become the only railway line to handle speeds of 200km/h in the country.