If public transport is the backbone of urban mobility, rail can be considered its heart.

Rail has proven to be one of the most sustainable, comfortable and safe modes of transport.

Regional, suburban, urban and local rail transport is an essential and innovative component of the overall global rail sector. Our railways keep cities and regions moving: they enable economic development, create employment, they connect places and people. January 2021 marks the debut of the European Year of Rail, an EU initiative aiming to highlight the benefits of rail as a sustainable, smart and safe means of transport. UITP is taking this opportunity to launch Keep it Rail!, a campaign with a global focus supporting the EU's objective of highlighting rail as essential means for sustainable mobility. Keep it Rail! includes a series of activities to promote regional, local and urban rail transport across the world. Throughout 2021, UITP will organise events and launch new publications and projects to highlight the key contribution of rail transport in citizens’ everyday lives.

Welcome word from UITP Secretary General, Mohamed Mezghani


“UITP is proud of acting as the platform uniting the various stakeholders related to efficient and sustainable mass transit systems, including rail. With close to 250 member rail operating companies coming from over 50 countries from around the world, in addition to organising authorities and suppliers, we have provided a space for immense knowledge creation, sharing and dialogue between these essential players. The members must be applauded for their openness and their dedication to advancing rail lines and public transport.”

A reference for the rail & public transport sector since 1885

Though UITP now covers all public transport stakeholders and sustainable transport modes, its origins lie with rail. Founded in 1885, Gustave Michelet of Brussels Tramways and Joseph Fisher-Dick of Berliner Tramways invited their colleagues of the European tramway industry to Brussels.

The invitation read: “The need for engineers and specialists to learn from the experience of colleagues is of the highest interest to all tramways administrations”.

UITP was born.

In those early years UITP counted 63 members from nine countries. Together, they worked to address the impact of the industrial revolution on the transport needs of workers and discussed innovation and research.

The big innovation of the period? Transitioning from horse traction to steam and later electricity as a power source for rail.

These days the scope of UITP has broadened significantly. Not only does it span the entire globe – we cover all modes of rail. From light rail and tram systems to metro and regional & suburban rail.


3.5 billion

Tokyo’s metro system moves 3.5 billion people per year, over half the world's population. Add the Moscow and Shanghai systems, and the three cities’ metros move the same amount of people as live on the globe.

+10 billion ridership

With an annual ridership of over 10 billion, Light rail and tram systems carry 10 times more passengers than air travel in Europe.

1.4 million passengers

Paris’ RER Line A carries over 1.4 million passengers per day, which equates to almost two-thirds of the city's population.

1st metro system

2018 saw the opening of the first metro system in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the two-line system of Abuja.