THE average age of locomotive-hauled coaches operating in continental Europe is 33 years, with the average age of the locomotives that haul them not far behind at 29 years. The averages, taken from the top five countries by fleet size - France, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and Germany - are revealed in a new report from German rail sector analyst SCI Verkehr.

This shows that the average age of coaches in France is currently 44 years, 20 years older than the average in Germany. Romania has the oldest locomotives, averaging 39 years in age, compared with Belgium, where the average is just 21 years.

Source: SCI Verkehr

Although multiple-units and high-speed trains have been gradually replacing locomotive-hauled coaches for many years, the report, Intercity and Night Trains - European Market Trends 2024, suggests that a boom in passenger numbers since the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a resurgence in locomotive-hauled stock for both inter-city and overnight trains, as operators rediscover the flexibility of operating more or fewer coaches, according to demand.

SCI forecasts that the OEM market for coaches will rise from €570m in 2023 to €1.7bn in 2028, an annual increase of 24%. The market for locomotives to haul them will rise from €90m in 2023 to €570m in 2028, an annual increase of 44%.

The majority of new orders are likely to come from incumbent operators, according to SCI, though it notes that the push by open-access operators into long-distance services could result in further orders for rolling stock manufacturers.