What is High-Speed rail?

High-speed rail is not merely a technical subject; rather, it encompasses a complex reality involving various technical aspects such as infrastructure, rolling stock, energy and operations and cross-sectoral issues such as financial, commercial, socio-economic, 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 regional integration and helping to create socioeconomically balanced societies at global level.

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

High-speed rail combines many different elements which constitute a “whole, integrated system": infrastructure (new lines designed for speeds above 250 km/h and, in some cases, upgraded existing lines for speeds of up to 200 or even 220 km/h), rolling stock (specially-designed train sets), telecommunications, 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 and High-Speed committee

The Intercity and High-Speed Committee is composed of members who, in some cases, already have decades of experience in operating HSR. Other members of the committee are involved in the design and construction of their own networks. The main purpose of the group is to exchange best practice on the full life cycle of high-speed rail and perform benchmarking.

Main objectives:

  • Co-ordinate UIC members’ high-speed rail activities, exchange information on the latest high-speed operating lines and resolve shared problems
  • Contribute to the development of high-speed rail systems around the world


The Intercity and High-Speed Plenary Committee meets at least three times per year, once in Asia. Other interim and technical meetings are dedicated to tackling specific activities or topics.

Chairman: HUO Baoshi (CR)
Honorific Chairman: Michel Leboeuf
Vice Chairmen: Imanol LEZA (Euskotren) and Eduardo ROMO (FCH)

UIC High-speed team
Marc Guigon, Director UIC Passenger Department
Beatrix Perrot, Assistant to the director
Paolo De Cicco, Senior advisor
Kenzo Fujita, Senior advisor
Vanessa Pérez, Senior advisor
Yinxia Huang, Senior advisor


Research and publications
UIC’s High-Speed Committee regularly conducts studies and research on the basis of requests received from one or several members.

Statistics – database and high-speed world atlas
UIC produces unique data to provide an overview of high-speed rail activities in respect of lines, rolling stock, traffic, etc.

Workshops, conferences and congresses
The UIC Passenger department collaborates with one of its members every two years to organise the UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail.

Additional specialised seminars and workshops are also held to examine the issues addressed by the High-Speed Committee in greater depth.

To respond to the many requests from its members for comprehensive and unbiased information on the subject, UIC has organised various training sessions on high-speed systems with the involvement of railway companies, the supply industry and the relevant ministries.

Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail
The aim of the alliance of universities for the development of high-speed railways is to establish a global academic network of universities, institutes of technology, polytechnics, engineering, architecture and business schools with proven and substantial involvement in the development of high-speed railways.

The alliance aims to strengthen collaboration and cooperation among UIC members, academic institutions worldwide and railway authorities, and to promote technical and socio-economic R&D in relation to high-speed rail.

The main objectives of the alliance are:

  • to create synergies and share knowledge and research between the parties
  • to provide workshops for the railway sector and academic stakeholders to meet and interact for their mutual benefit
  • to upgrade the rail education system
  • to exchange and disseminate information between universities and UIC members
  • to motivate students by encouraging their interest in the HSR domain
  • to help to recruit the best talent in the HSR field

International Railway Solutions – IRSs for high-speed rail
Technical harmonisation of the railway system has been a core objective of UIC, acting as an SSO (standards setting organisation), since its creation in 1922. Its members – the operators of the world’s railways – have, over the years, developed the “UIC Code”, comprising UIC leaflets, which define the common rules that apply to ensure safety and efficiency in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the railway system. A significant number of these deliverables are used outside the railway operating community. UIC now produces IRSs, produced through collaboration and consensus, to meet the business needs of the railway operating community (ROC). The IRSs set out harmonised operational requirements, generic methodologies and assessment criteria for the efficient design, construction, operation and maintenance of rail systems. The IRSs for high-speed rail are a subset of the overall series of IRSs and come under the remit of the Intercity & High-Speed Committee.
The IRS HS working group meets regularly to produce new IRSs or to update/migrate UIC leaflets to become IRSs.

Scientific & Organising Committees of the UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail
The UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail is renowned worldwide as the most prominent and large-scale global event on high-speed rail. Every two years, the congress addresses strategic issues linked to the national and international development of high-speed rail systems.

The Scientific and Organising Committees fall under the remit of the Intercity & High-Speed Committee. They meet regularly to establish the framework and roadmap for each world congress.

Presentation of the UIC Intercity AND High-speed committee

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Thursday 7 February 2019