Within the context of the UIC Alliance of Universities, a global academic network established in 2015 under the aegis of UIC for the development of high-speed rail, the first International Workshop on High-Speed Rail Socioeconomic Impacts was held successfully online on 14 and 15 September 2021.
Chaired by Prof. Francesca Pagliara, member of the Alliance and Professor at the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering of the University of Naples Federico II, together with the UIC team led by Marc Guigon, Passenger Director, and Philippe Lorand, Senior Advisor for High-Speed Rail, the workshop was attended by around 100 participants from across the sector including experts and railway representatives from Europe and across the world, UIC, and high-level institutions.
The five-session programme over one-and-a-half days gave participants the opportunity to explore and discuss recent research on the analysis and quantification of the effects, both on the economy and on society, of investments in high-speed rail systems.
The workshop’s opening remarks were delivered by a number of leading figures in the sector, notably:
- Moderator Prof. Francesca Pagliara (Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering – University of Naples Federico II, Italy)
- Prof. Francesco Pirozzi (Head of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering – University of Naples Federico II, Italy)
- Prof. Gennaro Nicola Bifulco (Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering – University of Naples Federico II and Chairman of the Italian Society of Transport Academics (SIDT), Italy)
- Dr Mario Tartaglia (Head of Strategic Research, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, Italy)
- Mr Michel Leboeuf (Honorary Chairman of the Intercity & High-Speed Committee, UIC)
- Mr Philippe Lorand (Senior Advisor High-Speed Rail, UIC)
- Prof. Anson Jack (Vice-President of the UIC Alliance of Universities, University of Birmingham, UK)
- Mr Seetha Ram KE (Senior Consulting Specialist, Asian Development Bank Institute, Japan)
- Ms Melissa Figueroa (Chief of Communications for California High-Speed Rail in the United States)
In addition, Mr Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director, gave a keynote presentation entitled “High-Speed Rail in the context of the new normal” which described the impact of the pandemic on rail passenger activities, the trends that have accelerated in consequence, as well as recommendations on how to build a long-term vision for high-speed investment by improving stations, supporting investment in infrastructure, mobility and multimodality.
The first day looked at a review of the socioeconomic impacts of high-speed rail including passenger preferences, regional accessibility and the perspective of equity, as well as the issue of appraisal and pricing, with case studies showing cost-benefit analysis and pricing models based on socioeconomic strategies. Speakers came from universities from the UK, Italy, Spain, the United States, China and Russia, as well from as the Indian Institute of Management in India.
The second day looked at the impacts of HSR on productivity and tourism, how technology has influenced high-speed railways, and how high-speed rail development has an impact on land use, urban quality and social equity. Speakers represented universities from the UK, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Indian Ministry of Railways, and the executive management consultant practice Beverly Scott and Associates, LLC.
In their concluding words, Prof. Francesca Pagliara and Marc Guigon raised some important questions and reiterated the key messages, notably the future of high-speed in the new normal, the importance of high-speed in creating jobs and developing the future, inclusion and democracy, as well as the interdisciplinarity need to develop high-speed rail around the world. Special thanks were extended to the UIC Alliance of Universities, and especially to the Chairman Professor Wang Jiaqiong, President of BJTU and the Vice-Chair, Professor Anson Jack.
It was agreed that there is still much work to be done in this area and that UIC is the right forum for a global workshop of this kind, with international collaboration within the Alliance being essential to shaping the industry together and achieving an efficient, applicable high-speed system.