Rail systems in Europe have become increasingly expensive over the past two decades.
The average railway operator has to pay an additional EUR 500 per kilometre of track each year to maintain it.
The European Union (EU) is spending a further EUR 1.6 billion per year on infrastructure.
This is almost double the amount it spent on rail between 2006 and 2011, according to the European Railways Union (ERU).
In the United States, a single passenger train cost just $6,500 in 2000, and now it can cost over $60,000.
But that’s not to mention the extra costs for maintenance and upgrades.
A railway engineer at the company responsible for the Belgian railway, VTM, said that in the past ten years, the cost of the train has increased by over 60%.
The company, based in the Netherlands, says it now spends around EUR 20 billion annually on infrastructure costs.
According to a report by the International Transport Research Institute (ITRI), the average rail operator is spending around EUR 8.8 billion per annum on infrastructure projects.
And with the average passenger train now costing over €100,000, the extra cost for maintaining the railway is going to grow exponentially.
This has already happened with the Belgian Railways.
The Belgian Railroads Railway (BRL) has been in operation since the early 1990s and has already increased its annual maintenance and operating costs by nearly a third over the last decade.
In 2018, the BRL reported an average annual maintenance cost of EUR 7.6 million per kilometer, while the average annual operating cost rose from EUR 1 billion in 2019 to EUR 3.2 billion in 2020.
And in 2021, the maintenance costs jumped by around EUR 1 million per year.
“We have to look at every possible possibility to maintain the train,” said Martin Van Eijs, the general manager of the BRS.
“The main problem is the increased maintenance costs,” he added.
“This is because we have to pay for everything with the revenue from ticket sales.
It’s a big burden on us.”
The increase in maintenance costs has been compounded by the fact that trains are getting heavier.
In 2019, the average train weight was over 3,200 kilograms, compared to around 1,800 kilograms in 2010.
“Nowadays we are using more and more fuel and this makes the train heavier,” said Van Eiken.
“If we continue this way, we will reach the point where we will have to buy more fuel to get the train going again,” he said.
As a result, the railway will have no choice but to increase maintenance costs to keep the trains going.
Van Eiks said the new system will be cheaper in terms of operating costs, but the new rail network will cost much more in terms to maintain and upgrade.
“When you see a train coming into a station, you have to stop it and wait for it to get ready to go,” he explained.
The Belgian Railway is looking for new ways to reduce the costs of maintaining the train. “
In order to maintain this network, we have had to increase the maintenance and upgrade costs for the train.”
The Belgian Railway is looking for new ways to reduce the costs of maintaining the train.
In October, the company announced that it was opening an automated system that will automate the daily maintenance of trains and allow operators to make decisions in a faster and more efficient manner.
“What we want to do is create an automated network that will provide an alternative to manual maintenance of the railway,” said VTM’s Van Eis.
“It will be automated, and it will work in a much more transparent way,” he concluded.
The BRL is planning to introduce an automated automated system as part of a larger project, called “Transportation Management Network” (TMN).
This will be similar to the network that exists in Belgium, where trains are monitored by an automated train control system.
“By using this system, we can take advantage of the speed and efficiency of the automated system,” said van Eikens.
“For example, we are trying to get more and better data on the train and train operations so that we can be able to do a better assessment of our track performance,” he noted.
Van-Eiks added that it is too early to discuss the impact of the system, but that the new technology will be useful for the company.
“TMN will enable us to better manage the maintenance of our trains,” he stated.
“And it will enable the company to be more efficient.”