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Around the world, more and more people are choosing to live in cities. In 2014, 54% of the world's population lived in urban areas. By 2050, 66% of the world's population is projected to be urban. As populations and economies grow around the world, humanity is increasingly concentrating in urban centers of development. This presents an opportunity for societies to create the right transport infrastructure to get people to where they need to go more efficiently than ever before. Creating this complex infrastructure is a challenge, though, and many developing societies are lagging behind.
By 2050, the world will see a major change in the makeup of the top 10 nations by GDP size, as established industrial economies contract and emerging economies like India, Brazil, and Indonesia continue to rise. In many of these growth regions, the development of mobility infrastructure will be outstripped by the sheer speed of urbanization. As cities grow, they invariably confront the issues of chronic road congestion and rising numbers of traffic accidents, as well as worsening environmental problems due to transportation-related air pollution. Economies will be constrained by these cities' limited ability to expand and move people from A to B.
Infrastructure issues affect the developed world too. In addition to aging of their existing infrastructure—only to be expected in countries that were leaders in introducing urban transportation systems long ago—problems include the need for improvement and rearrangement of these existing systems to address demographic shifts and changes to their industrial base.
Hitachi offers solutions that help all these economies, developing and developed alike, to keep their transportation infrastructure effective, efficient, and central to their continued growth.
Today every market around the globe is seeing rising demand for transportation of people and goods, and for the systems that support it. A successful provider of infrastructure solutions must have global reach to meet this demand. Each market faces its own set of issues, including economic factors, regulatory frameworks for safety and other matters, and environmental concerns.
Hitachi is focused on the specific needs and concerns of its customers around the world, identifying the issues that they face and developing the solutions that they demand. Our aim is to provide a tailored response to the issues faced by our customers in order to ensure sustainable development of urban living environments, as well as to bring enhanced comfort and convenience to the lives of the traveling public.
Hitachi's Railway Systems provide a full array of products and services. As a leading rail vehicle manufacturer, we produce the trains that connect the networks we serve. Furthermore, our traffic management system ensures optimal performance of the rail system as a whole while ensuring reliable operation of each in-service train. Rail is more than just a commodity. Our aim is to provide complete turnkey solutions for our target markets, encompassing the track and rolling stock, traffic management systems to ensure that the complete network functions safely and smoothly, and the train maintenance services that keep operating efficiency at peak levels.
The core of Hitachi's expertise is the cutting-edge technologies that go into our trains. Most notably, these trains include the Shinkansen, Japan's famously safe and efficient "bullet trains." The company has built an industry-leading track record for the traffic management systems and mechanical reliability that underpin Japan's reputation for down-to-the-second punctuality and a flawless operational safety record.
At Hitachi, safety is our number-one concern. Our railway systems are designed intelligently to isolate and minimize failures, so that any defects will have minimal or no impact on the rest of the system. We set safety as our top key performance indicator—not just for the products that we deliver, but also for our factories and all our other operations as well. Our dedication to safety ensures not just compliance with regulatory requirements in all the markets that we serve, but also that we remain the vendor of choice for customers who know that the lives and property of their customers come first.
Environmental and quality-of-life considerations are also key drivers of our technological and systems innovation. Years of Hitachi research and development have produced train vehicles that are lighter than ever while meeting safety requirements, make more use of recycled materials, and operate more quietly. These innovations minimize the impact on both passengers and communities living near the tracks. We are also a market leader in bi-mode/hybrid systems that run on electricity where it is available and, where no electricity is available, switch automatically to diesel or to batteries (charged by cutting-edge regeneration systems). Customers select rail solutions with the "whole-life approach" in mind, considering everything from weight and carbon emissions to serviceability and seamless compatibility with connected transportation networks. In this respect, Hitachi is a world leader in the technical integration of operation and signaling systems, providing expertise in all areas from urban light rail to city connections and international high-speed railway networks.
With our Railway Systems operations headquartered in the United Kingdom, we are uniquely positioned to offer globally minded solutions to markets around the world. We currently conduct rail-related business in 32 countries, and as of fiscal 2014 we are operating or providing rail systems to 28 countries worldwide.
As the birthplace of the railway, the United Kingdom has a long history of trains and rail networks. This was part of the reason that Hitachi chose to run its global Railway Systems operations from a UK base. This will provide access to important markets in Europe and the Middle East, and will serve as a platform for expanding our rail capacity globally.
The United Kingdom's Victorian rail infrastructure has been going through a period of continuous upgrade and regeneration. In addition to an extensive program of electrification and resignaling, stations, platforms, track, and bridges are all being renewed. This is to ensure that the United Kingdom's railways remain a vital part of its economic activity for many years to come.
Drawing on our technical expertise built up through work on Japan's high-speed Shinkansen "bullet trains" and other rail networks, Hitachi is developing rail vehicles for the United Kingdom that flexibly respond to these infrastructure conditions. In developing rolling stock for the British Intercity Express Programme (IEP), extending to Swansea and Plymouth in the west and the major cities of Scotland in the north, Hitachi focuses primarily on safety and environmental performance.
We have introduced carefully tested safety measures that fully comply with European regulations. Safety is the primary key performance indicator for Hitachi, not just in the rail vehicles we build but also in our factories and all of our rail operations. It is also the most important criterion for customers when they select a partner—and a key reason that Hitachi was chosen to upgrade and maintain the entire IEP fleet in one of the largest rail projects in British railway history.
To keep the Hitachi trains as environmentally friendly as possible, we have focused on reducing the weight of the rail vehicles, improving their aerodynamic profile, and increasing the percentage of recycled materials that goes into them. A quiet train is an energy-efficient train: vehicle design that reduces rail noise and air resistance leads to lower carbon output and operational costs. We are also achieving dramatically shortened travel times: journey time on the London—Ashford portion of the southeastern Main Line, for instance, has been shortened from 80 minutes to 37 minutes.
Furthermore, Hitachi is increasing energy efficiency through intelligent interior design, by maximizing seating capacity without sacrificing passenger comfort. We are working closely with the authorities and railway operators to ensure that these clever designs also conform with universal design and other relevant regulations.
A railway is more than just trains. Hitachi is able to offer a complete package to IEP operators, including rolling stock, repair and maintenance, and IT services allowing smart, fully networked operation of the trains. Our intelligent systems integrate route signaling and onboard systems to let trains communicate with each other. By keeping track of where the other trains are on the route, our trains can maintain a safe distance with less braking—which in turn reduces energy loss.
With its development of bi-mode trains allowing travel on both fully electrified lines and under their own power, Hitachi is providing flexible, adaptable systems with wide applicability. Our fully integrated approach to the rail business has proven a winning strategy in diversifying the British transportation market.
Creating a thoroughly modern, reliable rail network is a fundamental stimulus to the the British economy, and Hitachi is proud to play a key role. The Ashford Train Maintenance Centre, completed in 2007, and the new depots being readied for the IEP's introduction, are Hitachi's primary centers for rollout and servicing of new rail vehicles for British railways. We provide and create several hundred careers for skilled technicians, as well as the trickle-down effect that boosts the local and national economy. With a similar eye on the future of the British economy, we are sponsoring a university technical college in Newton Aycliffe, where we will have our European train factory. Scheduled to launch in 2016, this program will train up to 600 young people a year, filling a critical shortfall in engineers, and will help to ensure the future of our industry in the United Kingdom.
The Class 800 carriages Hitachi has unveiled for use on UK rail.
Vietnam is in a period of sustained economic growth. The population of its largest city, Ho Chi Minh, is skyrocketing, leading to chronic and intense traffic congestion. With no public transit facilities other than buses, many residents ride motorbikes or bicycles, and a rapid increase in the number of automobiles in recent years has made a difficult road traffic situation even worse. Problems like traffic accidents and pollution are steadily worsening.
To help protect the environment and provide a sweeping improvement to the traffic situation, we are constructing Line 1 of the Ho Chi Minh urban rail network, which will be Vietnam's very first urban railway with an underground section. Hitachi earned high marks for its ability to provide comprehensive railway solutions, winning a contract to provide 11 subsystems including the manufacture of rolling stock, signaling systems, telecommunication systems, power supply systems, platform screen doors, ticket vending machines and passenger gates, and depot facilities. Hitachi will also provide maintenance service on all of these systems for five years.
Once completed, the railway network will be run by an operation and maintenance company to be established by Ho Chi Minh City. However, it is unrealistic to expect local staff to immediately take care of the maintenance of facilities like signaling systems, track, and overhead contact systems. Hitachi will transfer technology over the course of the five-year maintenance contract, while also helping to foster human resources. Given the shortcomings in Ho Chi Minh's grid infrastructure, Hitachi will give full consideration to eco-friendly energy efficiency in its construction of electrical facilities, such as by installing regenerative inverters.
Traffic congestion in South Korea is getting worse due to increased concentration of the population in the capital of Seoul and in other key cities, as well as a rise in the number of automobiles on the roads. To address this problem, railway systems—which emit less CO2 than automobiles on a per passenger basis—are being reevaluated, and plans for introducing light rail networks such as monorails, with relatively low construction costs and smaller environmental footprints, are proceeding in a number of cities.
The city of Daegu—the urban center of Korea's southeast region, boasting about 2.5 million residents—has been grappling with these same issues. The municipal government has settled on a straddle-type monorail system as a means of preserving Daegu's environment of rich greenery and rivers and reducing energy use. Hitachi has a global record in providing monorail solutions, starting with seven systems in Japan including the Tokyo Monorail and extending to systems in Chongqing, China, and in Dubai. Daegu selected us for this project due to our long record, as well as the high evaluations of our monorail technology and reliability.
Daegu Metro Line 3, Korea's first urban monorail system, runs nearly 24 kilometers from the northwest to the southeast of the city, with 30 stations, and 84 cars in 28 train sets. It uses a driverless operation system. As a provision for ensuring passenger wellbeing in the event of an accident, one safety personnel member rides each train, and the cars are all equipped with safety systems like fire sprinklers and evacuation equipment that makes it easy for passengers to safely descend from the monorail cars. The monorail's cutting-edge technology also includes mist-glass windows in passenger compartments that automatically turn opaque when the train runs through a residential area, thus ensuring the privacy of homes along the line. This project is proactively employing Korean products thanks to collaboration with local corporations and Hitachi Korea.
Daegu Metro Line 3 began operation on April 23, 2015. In addition to improving access to various facilities throughout the city, it is expected to have various spillover effects, such as the monorail itself becoming a tourist attraction.
Looking forward, Hitachi Railway Systems will continue advancing its technologies in all areas: railway vehicle manufacturing, safety and environmental technologies that are central to train functions, and intelligent networks that integrate trains with signaling systems and railway operation centers. The company continues to prove itself in global markets at all levels of the industry, providing high-speed and city-connecting rail solutions as well as turnkey systems that meet fast-growing cities' urban transportation needs.
Rail transport is a vital part of eco-friendly urban design, and this role will only continue to grow as urbanization and population growth advance and demand for "smart cities" rises. Our SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) software systems enable detailed tracking of flows of people and goods around the clock, turning "big data" into a valuable tool for the transportation sector. We are also working on a full range of onboard train sensors that send data on component condition and performance to the maintenance engineers for analysis and tracking. Integrated solutions like these will help make transportation networks more reliable and cities as a whole greener and more efficient.
The cross-border integration of rail infrastructure is a growing field for our business. To prepare for this, we have actively moved to acquire key players in the European market, such as the Railway Engineering Company (TRE) Ltd., a provider of training equipment and automatic routing systems. Our 2015 acquisition of a significant stake in Ansaldo STS, the signaling and train control business of Italy's Finmeccanica, will give us greater capacity and improve our position to open new markets and expand our business in Europe and the rest of the world.
Rail will remain a strong global growth market for the foreseeable future. Our goal is to be recognized as the best rail supplier in the world—a company that customers aspire to use to meet their transportation needs. In the past 10 years, we have transformed ourselves from a rail vehicle manufacturer to a total railway solution provider, offering maintenance, financing, signaling, traffic management, and much, much more. We are well on our way to achieving our goal.