October 31, 2012

Global track market remains steady despite continuing economic uncertainty

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China remains the world's largest market for track systems with a 2012 market volume of €6.7bn. China remains the world's largest market for track systems with a 2012 market volume of €6.7bn.

THE global railway track system market remains on course for steady growth despite the budget crisis in the Euro zone and the slowdown in upgrades in China, according to the latest market study by German consultancy group, SCI Verkehr.

SCI Verkehr says that new projects in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America are more than making up for the lack of dynamism in established markets which means that suppliers have to be flexible in their activities in order to reap continuing rewards.

The group says the annual market is worth €34.6bn worldwide following a study of the average between 2010 and 2012, and anticipates an annual rise of 3.9% per year in the next five years to almost €42bn. Its previous study conducted two years ago predicted a 5% annual rise from around €33bn to €41.5bn between 2009 and 2014.

"The market is clearly reacting to economic and political pressure - but is not breaking away," says Ms Maria Leenen, CEO of SCI Verkehr, adding that once economic stimulus packages run out, a lack of public funds and tough political decisions in Europe, North America and China will lead to stagnating to shrinking markets.

"However, projects are rarely abandoned without an alternative, as was the case in Portugal," Leenen says. "More often they are trimmed back or postponed, like we have seen in Spain. In many countries new and modern routes are urgently required."

With their rail networks encompassing 90% of the world's total, China, the United States and Russia remain the world's key track markets.

China remains by a distance the largest market for track systems in the world with a current market volume of approximately €6.7bn which is projected to decline slowly but rise again in 2017 to €6.9bn. It is followed by the United States which is worth €5bn at present which will rise to €5.5bn by 2015, and fall back again to €5.1bn by 2017. Russia is the third largest market and is projected to experience a steady rise from €2.8bn this year to €3.3bn in 2017.

Increases are also expected in the Middle East, North and Southern Africa, as well as in Asia and South America. "Companies that are dissatisfied in established markets should take a look at the trend in Colombia, Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya, Mozambique or Oman," Leenen says.

Asia, and in particular China, remains the source of capital for many new projects. And Leenen believes that the slowdown in the domestic market will encourage Chinese companies to export.

"The excess capacities of Chinese companies are being utilised internationally until there are sufficient orders from the domestic market," she says. At the same time these companies are gathering international experience, however, their Russian and Indian competitors at this point still have the edge."

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