Light rail vehicle market to reach $11 billion by 2020

Posted on March 11, 2014

Photo courtesy LA Metro
Photo courtesy LA Metro
In 2012, the light rail transit vehicles market revenue was $8.48 billion and estimates that number will reach $11.5 billion by 2020, according to new research.

The report, “Strategic Analysis of Light Rail Transit in North America,” from Frost & Sullivan, covers the light rail and streetcar segments in North America — the second largest market after Europe. While the light rail segment is expected to witness steady growth till the end of the decade, modern streetcars will offer the maximum opportunities for manufacturers.

"With the introduction of [MAP-21], the U.S. Federal Transit Authority has streamlined its approach to administer its capital public transportation program for expanding transit systems, as such light rail transit will be one of the benefactors. Replacement of aging light rail rolling stock will also propel the North American light rail transit market in the coming decade," said Frost & Sullivan Automotive & Transportation Research Analyst Sundar Shankarnarayanan. "Although the average age of light rail transit vehicles in the U.S. and Canada is currently 16 years, this will gradually reduce due to new procurements. This will give the region a younger fleet by 2020."

The changing competitive landscape also bodes well for the market. Highly consolidated, with the top three competitors holding 63.2% share, the market is expected to see new participants by 2015, especially in the streetcar space, leading to competitive pricing and market expansion.

However, urban light rail transit systems will have to compete with bus rapid transit systems (BRT) for market share. BRTs have a similar capacity of 20,000 to 25,000 passengers per hour, but cost four times less to construct than light rail.

Nonetheless, the federal government is now extending more funding support to the market with the release of the MAP-21.

"Manufacturers are expanding market potential by launching North American-centric light rail transit solutions, specifically designed to suit the requirements of end users in the region," noted Shankarnarayanan. "They are also adopting batteries and super capacitors as energy storage devices on light rail transit systems in order to make it a more sustainable and viable mode of transportation."

In the long run, the light rail transit market will benefit by focusing on infrastructure that supports inter-modality and standardizing vehicle platforms to facilitate cost-effective development. For now, concentrating on reducing cost, while boosting efficiency and safety, will help penetrate the light rail transit market, according to the report.

To view the full report, click here.

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