With the High Speed Rail project being debated widely in both parliament and the media, it is important to review and understand the economic impacts of HSR. In research published in Transport Reviews, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Harrison Higgins, Matthew Piven and Wenbin Wei, make the link between past studies on HSR economic impacts and future predictions, while evaluating both the positive and negative effects of HSR on Planning and Urban form transformations.
Their article, 'Tracks to Change or Mixed Signals? A Review of the Anglo-Saxon Literature on the Economic and Spatial Impacts of High-Speed Rail' provides an important contribution in understanding the ways HSR can impact the economic development and spatial transformation of cities. It evaluates the impact of HSR on job growth, real estate development, regional restructuring, tourism, and other economic effects.
Referencing existing debates on the viability of HSR, the authors observe that, "Thus far, most of the debate around the HSR project in the USA has centered on the rail's anticipated ridership, capital and operating costs, and fare structures. Less inquiry has focused on its potential economic development and spatial impacts. But since great expectations are placed on the rail's potential for job generation and urban revitalization, it is important to take stock.
The article's conclusions point to the fact that first-tier cities will benefit from HSR, with potential growth in the city's capital investment and the quality of its urban planning. The benefits to second-tier cities can vary depending on location, land market conditions and many other factors. It is important to observe, however, that cities not served by HSR, or those served by HSR but peripheral to central cities, will gain no clear benefits from HSR. The tiers of cities usually refer to characteristics such as economic development, provincial GDP, and historical and cultural significance. Other factors that are crucial in the positive effects of HSR are the location of the station and the development of detailed transportation plans. It is the combination of all these factors, and many more, that the authors seek to put into perspective in light of the current controversy over HSR.
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