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    What are metros?

    Metropolitan railways are urban, electric transport systems with high capacity and a high frequency of service.

    Metros are totally independent from other traffic, road or pedestrians. They are consequently designed in tunnel, viaducts or on surface level but with physical separation. Metropolitan railways are the optimal public transport mode for a high capacity line or network service.

    Some systems run on rubber-tyres but are based on the same control-command principles as steel-wheel systems.

    In different parts of the world metro systems are also known as the underground, subway or tube.

    Developments and trends

    The first underground line opened in London in 1890. Since then, some 116 conurbations in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East and North Africa have joined the ranks of cities with their own metro system.

    Despite the high investment costs required, the development potential of metro systems is still large since there will be some 560 cities with populations of over one million by 2015.

    The major development of the last years is the development of driverless train operation. This allows not only for cheaper, but also safer and more reliable operation, and last but not least better customer service.

    Already 30 driverless lines are in operation and it is expected that in future 75% of new lines will be designed as driverless. Existing lines will also be massively retrofitted to driverless operation on the occasion of periodic modernisation of rolling stock or signalling equipment.

    This development is not only a technological challenge, but also requires a complete rethinking of service philosophy, company organisation and processes, as well as staff qualifications.

    Metros in figures
    In 2006, metro networks carried some 155 million passengers per day, or 34 times the average daily number of air passengers. This comparison clearly demonstrates the economic and social importance of developing, organising and operating a metro system.

    Metro is the most efficient transport mode in terms of energy consumption and space occupancy. In order to transport 50,000 passengers per hour and direction, a metro needs a right-of-way measuring 9m in width, whereas a bus would require 35m, and cars 175m. One kEP (kg equivalent petrol) will allow a single person to travel more than 48km by metro or 38km by bus, but no more than 19km by car.

    Capacity: vehicle: up to 10-car trains >> 1,800 pax

    Read more

    Press release 30-10-2007 Rome wins international metro photo competition
    The 'year of the metro' - 50 years of UITP Metro Division to be celebrated in Valencia
    Light rail and metro systems in Europe: Current market, perspectives and research implications
    The Metro: an opportunity for sustainable development in large cities
    Preventing and combating fires in metro systems
    Safety and Security of passengers in Metro Networks
    Strategy, policy and operational maintenance of electrical systems and equipment of metro networks
    For more cost-effective management of metro operating staff
    Commissioning of new rolling stock
    Maintenance subcontracting in public transport networks
    Wheelchair access in metro systems
    What are the major issues at stake for metro systems today?  
    Delhi Metro - The changing face of urban public transport in India

    Next events

    DECEMBER 2008

    3rd Metro Conference
    MetroCities: moving into the 3rd Millennium
    How new technologies shape our metros

    3-5 December 2008, Lausanne, Switzerland
    85th Metro Assembly
    4 December 2008, Lausanne,
    This Assembly will be exceptionally open to non-members for a high-level presentation of the results of the European Project MODURBAN, dealing mainly with the technical modernization of metro subsystems.

    UITP Metropolitan Railways Division

    Missions and issues    List of members  Working groups  Information for members


    The Metropolitan Railways Division is composed of all UITP full members planning, constructing and/or operating a metropolitan railway transport system.
    The Metropolitan Railways Division consists of the following bodies:

    • the Metropolitan Railways Assembly
    • the Metropolitan Railways Committee
    • the Sub-Committees

    Five specialist Sub-Committees carry out the study’s work of the Division, they are:

    • Operations
    • Rolling Stock
    • Fixed Installations
    • Finance & Commerce
    • Electrical Installations & Safety Systems

    CONTACT: Laurent Dauby,

    Missions and Issues

    The Metropolitan Railways Division is the UITP members' forum for metropolitan railway operators, for professional discussions on all issues regarding the planning, financing, construction, operation and management of metropolitan railway systems. It is the advocate of improving urban mobility and seamlessness through the provision of metropolitan railway systems.

    The Metropolitan Railways Division has an important networking role, that may result in activities such as conferences, study tours, scholarships, exchange programmes etc.

    The Metropolitan Railways Division consists of the following bodies :

    • the Metropolitan Railways Assembly
    • the Metropolitan Railways Committee
    • the Sub-Committees

    I. The Metropolitan Railways Assembly
    Mission of the Metropolitan Assembly (= MR Assembly)

    1. The Metropolitan Railways Assembly is a forum for liaison, exchange of knowledge and professional discussions on all issues regarding the planning, financing, construction, operation and management of metropolitan railway systems.

    2. The Metropolitan Railways Committee shall inform the Metropolitan Railways Assembly on on-going developments in the industry, on its current themes studied and on the position papers prepared by the Committee and submitted for discussion and approval to the Policy Board.

    3. The Metropolitan Railways Assembly notes and discusses the on-going topics studied and the position papers of the Metropolitan Railways Committee.

    4. The Metropolitan Railways Assembly nominates the members of the Metropolitan Railways Committee, in agreement with the UITP General Secretariat and the Committee Chairperson.

    5. The Metropolitan Railways Assembly is a privileged place to promote UITP activities to potential Metropolitan Railways Division members.

    Mission of the Metropolitan Railways Committee (= MR Committee)
    The Metropolitan Railways Committee develops and guides the strategy and the objectives of the MR Division, in agreement with the UITP Policy Board. It is responsible for planning the activities of the MR Division. The Committee reports to the Assembly and takes into consideration the results of the discussion.

    In this respect, under the direction of its Chairperson, the Committee assists the General Secretariat and the Assembly Chairperson with :

    • the preparation of the Assembly, in agreement with the local host ;
    • the supervision of the respect of the timetable of the studies and the organization of the presentation of the results to the Assembly.

    Under the direction of its Chairperson, the Committee also :

    • gives input to the agenda of the Assembly ;
    • coordinates the working programme of the priority themes with the UITP Programme Committee and the Policy Board ;
    • supervises the work that the Sub-Committees have taken on their own initiative and decides which of these studies should be presented to the Assembly in addition to the priority themes (see also « Rules of Operation of the Sub-Committees », Enclosed).

    Together with the Committee, the General Secretariat of UITP prepares conferences, workshops, study trips etc.

    List of members

    See the list of members

    Subcommittees and Working groups


    • Operations
    • Rolling Stock
    • Fixed Installations
    • Finance & Commerce
    • Electrical Installations & Safety Systems

    Working Group
    Metro Automation Working Group

    Information for members

    The Terms of Reference of UITP Divisions and Commissions are only available to UITP members. Please enter your login and password here and click on the section ‘Working bodies’ in the menu.


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