Research & Development, Rollingstock & Manufacturing, Safety, Sustainability

Siemens shines spotlight on sustainability  

Global transport solutions leader Siemens Mobility has reaffirmed its goal of improving sustainability and livability to rail industry leaders and stakeholders from across the Asia Pacific region.   

The strong message was delivered at the Asia Pacific Rail 2021 conference in Singapore in September, where Siemens Mobility Asia Pacific CEO Michel Obadia made a keynote presentation.   

He told more than 2600 live attendees that one of the company’s central motivations was to act decisively and introduce sustainability standards.    

The Siemens Group strives to become industry’s benchmark in environmental and social governance, and was one of the first companies to set the goal of carbon neutral status by 2030.   

This year’s event brought together more than 80 expert speakers to discuss the future of rail in Asia, addressing key themes such as digital rail, signalling and communications, operations and maintenance, asset management, and project updates. Operators showcased how they were innovating and transforming journeys, operations and processes to keep on-track.   

Obadia spoke on Siemens Mobility’s vision of unlocking the potential of digitalisation and latest technologies, while helping customers make rail infrastructure intelligent, creating values through the entire asset life-cycle, guaranteeing higher availability and enhancing passenger experience. An anticipated eight per cent growth rate until 2025 in the railway sector in the Asia Pacific will provide huge opportunities along the chain, from operation maintenance down to the supplier.    

At the core of the process is the need for sustainable mobility solutions, he said.   

Driven by trends in urbanisation, digitisation, globalisation, and demographic change, Siemens predicts the demand for mobility will continue to increase rapidly, requiring the mobility sector to adapt to constantly changing market conditions.   

At the same time, there is an intensifying need to mitigate climate change, as well as the depletion of natural resources, to shape a sustainable and livable future.   

Obadia said the need to adapt was urgent because two-thirds of the world’s population would be living in urban areas by 2050, compared to only 30 per cent in 1950.    

“Most of our factories are using 100% green energy, and already we have reduced emissions by at least 50 per cent,” Obadia said.   

“The industry must act responsibly and we have to work together to optimise our railway system to ensure the entire value chain is benefitting from it.”    

Get Inspired  

Siemens Mobility has leaned heavily on sustainability principles in developing the latest version of its lauded cutting edge electric multiple unit (EMU) train, the Inspiro, which is designed specifically for metros (mass rapid transit systems) and is planned as part of a platform that caters to needs of customers from train width to sitting capacity and other comfort factors.  

Siemens Mobility Country CEO Australia and New Zealand, Raphaelle Guerineau, said not only are the trains designed to meet people’s needs for freedom of choice and to travel in a pleasant, stress-free environment, they have been manufactured to meet firm sustainability targets.   

“Mass transit providers in cities and metropolitan areas in the 21st century face tremendous challenges,” she said.    

“Passenger volume, post-COVID concerns as well as the need for sustainable transport solutions are growing. Our response has been to use cutting- edge technologies that fully meet the needs of operators and passengers while also protecting the environment. We are leaders in this.  

“Public transportation must ensure that passengers are transported in a safe and comfortable environment while also meeting economic and environmental requirements.    

“Commuters today expect to travel in a friendly and connected environment.  Inspiro has a comprehensive offering of information, entertainment and communication along the way.”    

Guerineau said Siemens had taken all of these factors into account in developing its vehicles for metro systems.   

“We have the highest level of customisation to meet all our customer requirements. When we design systems, we look at the length, the width, the number of doors and all the equipment’s insights,” she said.   

“We also offer various grades of automation for customers to suit, for example whether it’s with driver, one with attendant on board, or fully automated in driverless mode.”  

And while there are different driving methodologies, what really makes the Inspiro platform stand out is the inherent design that makes it “very sustainable”.  

“The Inspiro delivers on our sustainability commitment. Low operating costs combined with energy efficiency and eco-friendliness – from its production and daily operation to its almost total recyclability,” Guerineau said.  

Energy efficiency   

The energy efficiency of the Inspiro is based on two factors – the weight-saving design and the use of energy-efficient technologies. The lightweight car body and a weight-optimised bogie reduce the overall weight of a single car by more than two tonnes compared with previous generations.    


The Inspiro platform is a product of Siemens’ wide-ranging experience with metro systems used in large cities all over the world. The new Inspiro modular vehicle concept is based on tried and tested components.    

During development, special attention was given to ensuring easy replacement of worn parts and spare parts and to component reliability.   

Maintenance activities can be facilitated even more by the optional use of remote diagnosis, which increases the metro train’s availability for passenger transport.   

Cost-efficiency and environmentally friendly   

The low operating and maintenance costs, reduced energy consumption, and the recyclable materials used, offer benefits for operators and the environment alike.  LED lighting in the passenger compartment and a demand-responsive air-conditioning system reduce the Inspiro’s energy consumption even more.   

The Inspiro’s environmental impact has been reduced throughout the entire product life cycle. As a result, the train has a recyclability rate of up to 95 per cent at the end of its service life (UNIFE Recyclability Calculation Method for Rolling Stock).   

Fully automated operation    

The trains can be equipped for fully automated, unattended train operation (GoA 4). A state-of-the-art train automation system is integrated into the train, ensuring reliable and highly available operation.   

The option for driverless operation guarantees the highest level of energy efficiency by controlling braking and acceleration throughout the entire metro system.   

Regenerated brake energy can be used immediately by simultaneously accelerating trains or can even be fed back to the grid.   

In addition, the train can be equipped with an array of safety systems, including derailment detectors, obstruction sensors at the end bogies and a fire detection system.   

Exterior doors of the Inspiro.

Electronic traction system   

The traction power is supplied from the third rail via current collectors or via an overhead catenary through pantograph.    

Each motor bogie is driven by two self-ventilated traction motors from the proven 1TB 20 series. The motors are controlled without speed sensors for a high level of reliability.   

Extraordinary design   

The Inspiro’s modern and distinctive vehicle design is immediately impressive.   

Large 1400-mm wide doors make it easier for passengers to board and exit the Inspiro.   

Inside, the cabs are all created for an enhanced customer experience, integrating an infotainment system. For passenger safety each door area is equipped with emergency intercoms, and a CCTV System can be installed.  

COVID response   

Guerineau said that in the wake of the pandemic, Siemens Mobility had also developed air circulation modelling to simulate COVID propagation conditions.   

“This helped us come up with verified air distribution and ventilation systems in the trains proven to mitigate COVID spread, including some sensors to monitor occupants,” she said.   

Hydrogen power 

Another example of Siemens Mobility’s straightforward sustainability commitment is its involvement with the MireoPlus H hydrogen trains, manufactured for an emissions-free operation.    

One of the reasons railways are the ‘greenest’ form of transport is that it is relatively easy to power trains by electricity. However, electrification isn’t always viable for regional or local routes, and Siemens has developed a new platform which allows operators to fully decarbonise operations efficiently and economically.    

As a climate-friendly transportation transition is essential for dealing with climate change, hydrogen could become a key lever for train operators to grow sustainably in the next 10 years.   

Siemens Mobility, in a joint project with Deutsche Bahn, is developing this next generation of MireoPlus trains based on the proven, high-performance Mireo commuter train, which is also used in battery-powered operation.    

Siemens has devised a completely new system architecture using next-generation fuel cells and high-performance batteries which offer lower energy consumption, high drive power and thus shorter journeys than diesel equivalents.   

DB Energie GmbH will ensure the supply of hydrogen for the project, from production by means of renewable-powered electrolysis all the way through to storage and provision.   

Looking forward  

The hydrogen trains, though, are still being refined for widespread use, and Siemens is also working on more efficient batteries to optimise the range of alternatives to conventional fuels.  

It’s the Inspiro platform, already used around the world from big European cities and the Middle East through to the Asia Pacific region, that will have the more immediate effect.   

Australia could be its next destination, with Siemens Mobility currently tendering for the Sydney Metro West project along with the Western Sydney Airport line.  Guerineau said both were likely to be turnkey projects, which Siemens Mobility was well-equipped for.  

“If successful, we will take the full system integration: so it’s not just providing the rolling stock, but also the signalling and rail electrification, telecommunication systems, up to platform screen doors,” she said.  

“The full integration is really important because there’s a need to have a  fully functional, performing and operation glitch-free service. 

“If there is no driver on the train, it means that the signalling system needs to be fully integrated with the computer system to manage all the service conditions.   

“In case of an emergency, the system will be able to evacuate passengers off the train automatically.”  

Most importantly, of course, is the sustainability aspect that the Inspiro platform will bring.  It’s been 11 years in the making, with its first trains delivered in Munich in 2010, and many improvements have been incorporated since then.  

“This sort of sustainable system is really an area of growth for Australia as the metro lines are a new segment of the market that’s developing here,” Guerineau said. 

“Our trains for Australia will have a bespoke design to meet people’s high expectations and will deliver on our sustainability commitment.” 


  • 2010: Order for 21 six-car trains for Munich 
  • 2011: Order for 35 six-car trains for Warsaw 
  • 2012: Order for 58 four-car trains for Kuala Lumpur 
  • 2013: Order for 67 two- and four-car trains for Riyadh 
  • 2015: Order for 21 four-car trains for Nuremberg 
  • 2015: Order for 20 three-car trains for Sofia 
  • 2021: Order for 94 nine-car trains for London Underground (Piccadilly Line)