SYSTRA is an experienced multi-disciplinary partner for the design and delivery of advanced metro and urban rail mass transit systems. We support the entire project lifecycle, from initial costing, analysis and planning through to detailed engineering designs and construction services.

Creating efficient urban rail systems

Metro rail networks provide essential mass transport in densely populated urban areas. They are one of the fastest, most efficient and sustainable ways to move large numbers of people around cities, driving economic vitality and growth. But transport planners and engineers face many challenges when it comes to upgrading, extending or building new metro and underground train systems to meet growing demand.

Affordability and access to funding are major hurdles, alongside negotiating regulatory approval processes and developing engineering designs for new metro lines in highly constrained urban areas. Gaining planning approval is a complex process, particularly given the costs and risks associated with urban rail schemes. The long-term benefits need to be balanced against short-term disruption and impacts on city centre businesses, residents and workers.

SYSTRA has played an integral part in the design and development of metro and urban rail systems around the world for more than 60 years – helping local authorities create rail networks that increase ridership, support economic growth, and improve the travel experience for residents, commuters and visitors.

SYSTRA rail specialists provide comprehensive services for every phase of metro and urban rail project delivery. We support the development of metro system concepts, alignment and routes to enable successful urban rail upgrades and revitalisation.

The breadth of expertise and specialisms across SYSTRA enables us to provide every aspect of urban rail project delivery in an integrated way – combining architecture, planning, environmental assessments, landscaping, engineering design, systems integration and operations. That means we can address every client challenge, from gaining planning approvals and funding, through to developing sustainable transport networks that deliver social, economic and environmental benefits.

Support for funding and planning applications

At the early stages of any urban rail project, we develop business cases from expert analysis of demand, design and cost – including demand and revenue forecasting, social, economic and financial appraisals. This extensive support at the inception of a project helps to ease planning processes, support successful funding applications and achieve stakeholder approval. We have a strong capability in both researching and using the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (PDFH), TfL’s Business Case Development Manual (BCDM) and in using strategic multi-modal transport models, often seeking to optimise rail and wider public transport network integration.

To help clients meet value for money objectives, we can carry out multi-criteria assessments and develop business cases that comply with HM Treasury Green Book and Transport Appraisal Guidance (TAG), and the Scottish and Welsh equivalents (STAG and WelTAG respectively).


Our engineering team provides preliminary designs, tender preparation, detailed designs and costings. Our detailed designs for metro and urban rail cover track forms, power systems (whether OHLE, third rail or bi-mode/battery) and metro signalling systems (Communications-Based Train Control – CBTC).

We facilitate the optimisation of designs for long-term safe and reliable operation through our human factors, RAM, EMC, safety and requirements management services. These design services ensure projects maximise opportunities for economic growth, social impact and the creation of better urban environments where people want to live and work.

Optimal metro networks for constrained urban environments

We can design and build a host of options for metro and urban rail structures, including street-level, cut and cover, tunnelling and elevated structures – such as the U-shaped viaduct, patented by SYSTRA. This unique concept combines an elegant design with fast and economical construction, ideal for busy urban locations. Our capabilities enable us to create the most appropriate metro rail infrastructure to negotiate the constraints any congested inner city area.

Our systems capabilities include signalling, rolling stock, power supply, telecoms, monitoring systems, ticketing, Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEPs), permanent way and platform screen doors. When it comes to station design, we support projects with passenger capacity and crowding assessments, alongside evacuation modelling – using our advanced pedestrian planning software.

That means our metro rail systems are well adapted for each urban environment, ensuring we deliver a safe, efficient and sustainable transport solution for every client.

Safety, cost and efficiency in metro construction

SYSTRA supports metro rail construction projects by providing construction supervision, testing and commissioning services for both infrastructure and railway systems. Our expert support ensures that projects are delivered safely and that costs are optimised throughout the construction phase.

Thanks to our multi-disciplinary abilities, we understand and regularly manage the complex interface between civil engineering and railway systems. Clients rely on us to design and supervise construction programmes, while contractors are keen to collaborate with us to reduce risk and increase efficiency in design.

How can our experts help?

The Future of the Metro

SYSTRA and Usbek & Rica consider the possible future of the metro.

Find out what its like to work at SYSTRA, rewards, benefits and about different career pathways including apprenticeships and graduate opportunities.