The 1970s saw an energy revolution and a new dynamic in rail passenger transport, brought about by electrification and the development of high-speed lines put into service in Japan some years previously. In France and in various European countries, new railway lines were constructed for speeds of up to 250 km/h and then 300 km/h. The services on these lines connected major cities, resulting in the development of transport systems which in turn led to a social and economic boom in the towns, cities and regions served. These lines were extended over time and later connected to form high-speed transport networks. Encouraged by the technical and economic success of these railway developments, other countries such as Korea, Taiwan and China followed suit and built their own high-speed networks, and many other high-speed projects were developed in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, America, India, Morocco and elsewhere.
Connected with the conventional rail network, high-speed lines offer not only speed, but also access to larger areas and greater numbers of services. This brings about a need for upgrading and electrification of existing conventional networks and the development of new, faster rail lines.
These harmonised developments provide access to larger areas, affording greater regional penetration and enhancing intercity connections to support economic growth and modern mobility requirements.
In parallel with high-speed development, modernised train stations, improved onboard services, the integration of new technologies and interfaces with other modes of transport align with an intermodal vision that responds to transport needs for the 21st century. There are major benefits to be gained from the technical and commercial performance of high-speed rail.