Open and close mobile menu


Insights The top five trends driving the global transportation industry

The world relies upon connectivity; channels through which people, goods and services move across the globe. With the increasing population and requirement to meet its needs, we are seeing inevitable disruptions leading to changing trends in the global transportation industry. It is expected that transport is not only sustainable but easier, safer and more reliable than previously seen and with that, transportation and engineering jobs are becoming critical to enable these changes in a way that addresses the escalating climate emergency.graphic image showing modes of transport and how the world is connected

1. Sustainability regulations

Emissions relating to road, rail, air and marine transportation account for 21% of CO2 emissions. The Paris Agreement therefore sets out a global framework to prevent dangerous climates and to achieve this, we all have a collective responsibility to reduce carbon emissions. People, businesses, and nations must make a combination of improvements in the transportation industry; addressing clean fuels, vehicle efficiency, how we build cities, and how we move people and goods.

At AtkinsRéalis , we partner with clients to effect genuine change across every aspect of our projects to help create a world of Net Zero emissions. On our Eglinton Crosstown project in Toronto, for example, the new light-rail transit line is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger transportation by 29% per person.

2. The rise of digital and mobility-as-a-service

With demand for convenience and accessibility of goods and services increasing, those in transportation jobs, such as civil engineering, are required to make travel more seamless and integrated. The ever-increasing use of digital technology is facilitating this and interestingly, Deloitte compares the transportation industry’s transformation to that of streaming services like Netflix, which have changed the way people search for, consume, and pay for media. In Helsinki, for example, there is a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) app called Whim, which locals use to plan and pay for all modes of public and private transportations within the city.

In Greater Manchester, the team at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, undertook a trial to investigate if MaaS could improve the future of mobility. The trial provided valuable insights into people’s travel habits and how they interact with technology.

3. 3D modelling

With the rise of digital, we’re also seeing an increase in the use of efficient and cost-effective technologies like BIM to build, maintain and repair roads, railways, bridges, and tunnels. Digital modelling allows for better visualisation and accuracy in how components fit together, therefore removing inconsistency and avoiding duplication. As a major design partner in the £1.5 billion upgrade to the A14 transport corridor between Cambridge and Huntington, our approach to using digital technologies helped move our industry further along the digital journey. We’ll continue to push the boundaries with new technology, unlocking efficiencies and ensuring common standards of quality in order to drive change in the transportation sector.

4. Smart motorways and highways

Smart Motorways and highways were developed to manage traffic and to increase capacity and reduce congestion in particularly busy areas, and they are becoming increasingly common. Highways England (HE), for example, intend to reduce environmental impact, cost and construction time by limiting the number of additional motorway lanes they build. Our team at Atkins have been delivering on HE’s Smart Motorways programme, including tunnels and bridges and installing hundreds of variable messaging signs and gantries, helping to maximise the use of the network and enable the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. Additionally, through developing an innovative system with the network provider EE, we have been using mobile phone data to provide HE with accurate ‘live’ journey time information.

5. Electric vehicles

In the last decade, the number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the road has dramatically increased. Globally, there were around three million electric car sales in 2020 and IHS Markit predicts that by 2025, this will surpass 12.2 million. We’re also seeing the trucking industry embracing change. According to Forbes, the California Air Resources Board is investing $45 million to advance electric transportation and promote zero-emissions technologies. Volvo Trucks are therefore testing the market in California to help improve air pollution, introducing electric trucks that use lithium-ion batteries rather than fuel and can travel at least 150 miles a day without having to recharge.

The growth in EVs presents an opportunity for the transportation industry in providing electricity generation, transmission, distribution and charging points. Building on the experience we’ve gained on other landmark aviation projects, we are also working with Vertical Aerospace to help them develop an air taxi that could revolutionise the way that we move around urban areas.

Join us on our journey to drive forward change

We’re growing our team and seeking wide-ranging skills and capabilities to deliver transportation projects for our clients, providing straightforward solutions to complex problems. If you’re looking to innovate and improve your digital skills, apply for a transportation job and join us in driving forward change in the world.