Wednesday 21 September 2022

High-Speed Rail Socioeconomic Impacts: Another Successful Workshop

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After its initial success in 2021, the 2nd Edition of the International Workshop on High-Speed Rail (HSR) Socioeconomic Impacts was held online on 13 and 14 September with over 100 participants and 39 speakers from all over the world. This large-scale workshop aimed to analyse and quantify the impacts of HSR and was chaired by Prof. Francesca Pagliara, a member of the UIC Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail, and Professor at the University of Naples Federico II Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.

The six sessions, spread over two days, were dedicated to the key effects of HSR systems, such as productivity, competition vs integration vs inclusion, land use, innovation, the environment, accessibility, and tourism. Several case studies were presented from Europe, China, Japan, India and the USA.

The workshop started on 13 September with other high-level speakers supporting Prof. Pagliara:

  • Prof. Francesco Pirozzi (Head of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, Italy), opened the workshop, highlighting the importance of studying HSR infrastructure and their impact on society.
  • Philippe Lorand (UIC Senior Advisor for High-Speed Rail), presented UIC’s mission as well as the activities and work undertaken by the UIC Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail.
  • Prof. Hironori Kato (Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Japan), underlined how the Japanese Shinkansen has improved interurban accessibility and positively impacted regional economies, but that HSR has also increased regional inequality in isolated areas not served by this network.
  • Anthony Williams (Member of the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority, USA) described the extensive work needed to build the Californian HSR line, and how it will develop surrounding communities. He underlined the Biden administration’s position regarding these networks, together with the role of women in the transport sector.
  • Pascal Deyrolle (General Manager, Luxury Train Services SRL, Italy), discussed luxury trains, highlighting not only their comfort and speed, but also their new objectives of improving sustainability and “slow”, high-quality experiences.
  • Alfonso Saraco (Area Manager, International Workplace Group PLC, Italy), described how HSR stations are not simply nodes in a network but actual usable spaces in any given area. For example, where temporary working space can be created, promoting hybrid working and sustainable energy consumption.

Prof. John Preston, Professor of Rail Transport at the University of Southampton, presented a keynote speech on “The Socio-Economic Impact of HS1 in the UK: A Re-Assessment”, studying the high-speed rail line from Ashford International to London St Pancras. He stated that there needs to be a more systematic and robust approach but that evidence has also shown differing forms of regeneration. The greatest benefit was initially seen around the St Pancras and Stratford International stations, however other factors may also have contributed to this, including macroeconomic performance.

In the closing session, an award, sponsored by the Asian Development Bank Institute, was given to the best paper, and, KE Seetha Ram, Senior Consulting Specialist at ADBI in Japan, described the upcoming events being promoted by the Tokyo-based think-tank.

Prof. Yoshitsugu Hayashi, from Chubu University in Japan, and Michel Leboeuf, Honorary Chairman of the Intercity & High-Speed Committee at UIC, then summarised the workshop’s key findings.

Finally, Prof. Pagliara thanked the everyone for the quality of their contributions and observed that the community surrounding this workshop has been growing since 2021, and that the future will hopefully see even more countries joining. Philippe Lorand also highlighted the need for an annual event and launched the following year’s event which, depending on how the situation with the pandemic evolves, will either be held online or in person.

For further information please contact Philippe Lorand, Senior Advisor for High-Speed Rail:

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