Megacities and High Speed Rail systems: which comes first?
Author(s)Pagliara, Francesca; de Abreu e Silva, Joao; Sussman, Joseph M.; Stein, Naomi
A megacity is usually defined as a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people. The number of megacities is increasing worldwide. In most agglomerations and megacities, urban planning and public infrastructure can guide the urban development in order to achieve a proper sustainable structure only partially. The extension of cities is in most cases in advance of urban development work and the provision of public facilities (Kotter, 2004). In Europe, apart from London and Paris, megacities are rarer. However, due to the general high density of population in Europe and the short distance between medium and large cities there is the possibility of High Speed Rail (HSR) enables the emergence of groups of cities that will be linked together and thus reap the economic benefits associated with megacities, namely economies of scale, economies of agglomeration and bigger labour markets. In this contribution the authors argue that in some cases, specific facilities can foster the formation of megacities; in fact, this is the case of HSR systems. Specifically, High-Speed trains can be used to solve two different accessibility problems. In the first case, where a point-to-point link is dominant, each train is a potential substitute for an air connection between two cities, i.e. it connects cities (or rather CBDs) at long distance with a direct train connection (Blum et al., 1997).The HSR links between Paris and Lyon, Paris and London and, Tokyo and Osaka, could be seen as examples of this first type of train connection. In the second case, where a HSR network is dominant, the rail system links together many cities and CBDs and, hence, creates a new type of region with a high intra-regional accessibility sharing a common labour market and a common market for household and business services. In this case the HSR binds together cities in a band, where each pair of cities is at a time distance of between 20 minutes and 1 hour, allowing daily commuting. In the U.S., HSR projects are very recent and they will have the role of connecting already formed megacities. An example is the state of California, which is planning an 800-mile HSR service connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco into a two and a half hour trip. On the other hand, Europe, together with Asia, is the leader in HSR systems; in fact the development of HSR has been one of the central features of recent European Union transport infrastructure policy. The proposals for a European HSR network emerged in a report of the 1990 Community of European Railways and this was essentially adopted as the base for what became the European Community’s proposed Trans-European Network for HSR (Vickerman, 1997). In this paper the case studies of Portugal, where the HSR is a work in progress and of Italy, in which some lines have already been built, will be described in detail from the viewpoint of the various kinds of development described above.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
ESD Working Papers;ESD-WP-2012-07