Why taking rail online should be on the 2017 fast track

There is a lot going on in rail. Not perhaps in the UK, it is true! Yet Asia, China and India, among others, have just announced rail investment budgets of hundreds billions of dollars a year to put in new hi-speed, hi-tech, electric and Wi-Fi connected railway lines. These are linking up the continent’s cities and boosting local economies.

Reflecting Eurasia’s connectivity, facilities for online booking are also creeping out along the tracks. It is still not straightforward for foreigners to buy Chinese rail tickets online from abroad. But, as pointed out on the excellent Seat 61 website run by international rail hobbyist Mark Smith, it is not difficult to use Chinese online sites or buy via an Australian one. Indian rail tickets can also be bought online. All over Asia there is plenty of online rail travel information.

Research group Technavio has estimated the global smart railways systems market to grow at a CAGR of above 27% by 2020. And whatever Asia’s plans, it says that Europe has dominated the global smart railways systems market, accounting for a 32% market share in 2015. According to its report, ‘Europe will continue to dominate the industry during the forecast period as it has the best railway traffic management system’.