New Delhi: The International Energy Agency on Wednesday said the future of railways across the world would be determined by how they responded to rising transport demand and pressure from competing modes of transport.

The report states that rising incomes and populations in developing and emerging economies like India will lead to strong demand for mobility, but social considerations and the need for speed and flexibility tend to favour car ownership and air travel.

The IEA predicted the global annual investment in rail infrastructure to increase to $315 billion in 2050 on the basis of projects currently in various stages of construction and planning.

The report ‘Future of Rail’ was released by India’s railway minister Piyush Goyal and IEA executive director Fatih Birol at an event in New Delhi.

Today, most rail networks are located in India, China, Japan, Europe, North America and the Russian Federation, while metro and light rail networks operate in most of the world’s major cities. About 90% of global passenger movements on conventional rail take place in these countries and regions, with India leading at 39%, followed by the China (27%), Japan (11%) and the European Union (9%). Globally, about three-quarters of conventional passenger rail activity use electricity, and the remaining quarter relies on diesel.

Focusing on India, the IEA said Indian Railways was spearheading a wide range of ambitious undertakings and had the potential to serve as an example for other emerging economies. Railways in India save more energy and emissions than they consumes as compared to other countries.

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