The local economic impacts of high-speed railways: theories and facts

Elected officials and practitioners generally believe that - along with gains in time, environment, and roadway safety - the local economic impacts brought by high-speed railways (HSR) could be a major ingredient in socioeconomic appraisals. However, academic studies have shown mixed results. This article reviews the various channels through which HSR may impact the local economies. We break down the economic effects by stages of the projects’ lifetime and we question the existence of these impacts with an eye towards empirical evidence from the abundant academic and “grey” literature. Outside the “construction effects”, that constitute a broad consensus, studies find both the existence and the absence of impacts of HSR, whether these are short-term effects on local productivity and the geography of consumption (through tourism or extended stays) or long-term effects on the relocation of businesses and households and ultimately local growth patterns. Results show great variability as economic effects are conditional upon a set of other factors such as city size, industry structures, amenities, and distance from the urban core. The main difficulty is being able to identify empirically to what extent new infrastructures have affected variations observed in the field, and not the opposite. We believe that making progress on these questions requires clarifying which model of local development is to be used and what kind of development is the goal of public policy.

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    • © 2017 Corinne Blanquart and Martin Koning. The contents of this paper reflect the views of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Transportation Research Board or the National Academy of Sciences.
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  • Publication Date: 2017-6


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01630576
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 28 2017 5:06PM