UK-based design, engineering and project management company Atkins’ CEO Uwe Krueger has emphasised the importance of railways in interconnecting of cities in the future to meet the growing urbanisation demand.

According to Krueger’s presentation titled ‘Railway Development Worldwide’, the global population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050 and 75% of people will live in cities.

"The development of these routes will bind together societies and economies and support continued growth."

In the presentation Krueger said that designing transport infrastructure to meet the urbanisation demand can be achieved by overcoming several challenges, including attracting the best engineers against a backdrop of a global shortage of skilled workers and developing new advanced technology to meet cost reductions.

"Urbanisation requires evolutionary change as we seek to adapt the vast majority of our existing assets, as well as creating new infrastructure that must cope with challenges we cannot yet fully predict," Krueger said.

"This is, I believe, the first driver for railway today. The railway’s potential today is in the creation of not only national but international main routes. The development of these routes will bind together societies and economies and support continued growth."

The countries in Africa and the Asia Pacific region are responding to the demand with rail networks investments.

Atkins has partnered with Heriot-Watt University to establish a high-speed rail centre of excellence in the UK.

The company also supports a rail education programme at the Danish Technical University through the Danish Rail Association.