Accessibility impacts of high-speed rail

Recently published:

  • Levinson, David (2012)
    Viewpoint: Accessibility Impacts of High Speed Rail
    Journal of Transportation Geography pp. 288-291 [doi]
  • This paper reviews the state of high-speed rail (HSR) planning in the United States c. 2010. The plans generally call for a set of barely inter-connected hub-and-spoke networks. The evidence from US transit systems shows that lines have two major impacts. There are positive accessibility benefits near stations, but there are negative nuisance effects along the lines themselves. High speed lines are unlikely to have local accessibility benefits separate from connecting local transit lines because there is little advantage for most people or businesses to locate near a line used infrequently (unlike public transit). However they may have more widespread metropolitan level effects. They will retain, and perhaps worse, have much higher, nuisance effects. If high-speed rail lines can create larger effective regions, that might affect the distribution of who wins and loses from such infrastructure. The magnitude of agglomeration economies is uncertain (and certainly location-specific), but presents the best case that can be made in favor of HSR in the US.

    JEL code: R40, R11, R14

    Keywords: high-speed rail, public transportation, economic development, land use, hub-and-spoke