High Speed

What is High Speed Rail?

High speed rail is not only a technical subject, but encompasses a complex reality involving various technical aspects such as infrastructure, rolling stock and operations and cross-sector issues such as financial, commercial, managerial and training aspects. The high speed rail system combines these various elements using highly sophisticated technology.

This rapidly expanding new transport mode is often described as the transport mode of the future for a number of reasons. As well as improving rail services, promoting the modern image they seek to convey and yielding greater customer satisfaction, high speed trains also play a key role in achieving territory integration and helping to create socio-economically balanced societies at world level.

This highly efficient transport mode makes significant demands in terms of investment, technology, industry, the environment and its political and social aspects.

There is no single standard definition of high speed rail. The definitions vary according to the criteria used since high speed rail corresponds to a complex reality.

In any case, high speed is a combination of a lot of elements which constitute a whole "system": infrastructure (new lines designed for speeds above 250 km/h and in some cases, upgraded existing lines for speeds up to 200 or even 220 km/h), rolling stock (special designed train sets), operating conditions and equipment, etc. In view of the fact that many high speed trains are also compatible with the conventional network, the term "high speed traffic" is also frequently understood to signify the movements of this type of train on conventional lines but at speeds lower than those permitted on the new high speed infrastructure.


Intercity & HS Committee is a UIC working group composed of members who already have decades of experience in operating HSR and some others who are still focused on the design and construction of their own network. The main purpose is to exchange best practices on the full life cycle of the corresponding assets.

Main objectives:

  • Co-ordinate high speed activities of UIC members and solve common problems
  • Contribute to the (“logic”) development of high speed rail systems around the world


The Intercity and the High Speed Plenary Committee meets three times per year, at least once in Asia. Some other intermediate and technical meetings are dedicated to tackling specific activities or subjects.

Chairman: Andrew McNaughton (HS2)
Honorific Chairman: Michel Leboeuf
Vice Chairmen: Eduardo Romo (FCH)
& Huo Baoshi (CR)


Marc Guigon, Director UIC Passenger Department
Beatrix Perrot, Assistant to the Director
Paolo De Cicco, Senior Advisor High-Speed
Kenzo Fujita, Senior Advisor
Juhyung Lee, Senior Advisor
Vanessa Pérez, Senior Advisor


Research- Publications
UIC aims to support its members in various ways. More particularly, its High Speed Committee regularly conducts studies and researches requested by one or several members.

Statistics – Database & HS World Atlas
UIC generates databases unique in the world that provide an overview of the HS reality regarding: lines, rolling stock, traffic...

Workshops, Conferences and Congresses
Every two years, the UIC Passenger and High Speed Department organises in cooperation with a member the UIC World Congress on High Speed Rail.
More specialised seminars and workshops are also held to examine in greater depth the issues addressed by the High Speed Committee.

Training Sessions
In order to meet the many requests from its members for comprehensive and unbiased information on the subject, UIC has staged different training sessions on high speed systems with the involvement of railways companies, supply industry and ministries.

As a consequence of the activities conducted within the Intercity & HS Committee, the UIC - Universities Alliance for High Speed Rail was created, with the purpose of improving the relationship between the I&HS Committee members, rail actors (rail infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, rail associations and manufacturers belonging to the rail sector) and universities (any university or college worldwide, including engineering, architectural and business schools with an interest in High Speed Rail Systems) for the sake of the HSR activity developed by UIC’s members throughout the world.

UIC Publications

 All free publications