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TRANSFORuM workshop on High-Speed Rail held in Lyon


Ten experts from 7 countries attended TRANSFORuM's first workshop on high-speed rail, representing a variety of stakeholder organisations.

TRANSFORuM is explicitly following a stakeholder-driven approach, which – in the current project phase – translates into a series of stakeholder workshops, each focussing on one of TRANSFORuM’s thematic areas. A workshop focussing on the high-speed rail goal of the EU Transport White Paper took place on Nov. 21 / 22 2013 in Lyon, France.
It was attended by 10 external experts from 7 countries, some of which even contributing their experience from China and Japan in order to calibrate the European perspective against global benchmarks. Our guests represented a variety of stakeholder organisations such as the European Railway agency, operators, consultancies, NGOs and national agencies.
The main purpose of the workshop was to identify good practice and to kick-start TRANSFORuM’s roadmapping process. It was structured into several different sessions as specified in the workshop <link http: fileadmin user_upload hsr_briefing_paper_autumn-2013.pdf _blank briefing>briefing paper. The variety of issues that emerged during the discussion demonstrated the complexity but also the unclear and problematic definition of the White Paper’s high-speed rail goal. They included the role of the EU and national governments as risk absorbers, creators of level playing fields, facilitators of knowledge exchange etc. Also the most productive balance between competition and cooperation was discussed, especially in the context of cross-national connections.
The presence of stakeholders from the UK, China, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and France made it possible to draw some insightful cross-country comparisons, which underlined the differences in national rail “cultures”, the positioning and design of rail stations, financing and business models, even details such as train widths, seat capacity and many other context variables.
Other topics that were discussed included the choice between separated (newly built) tracks versus  an integration of high-speed rail tacks into the existing track system. Also the operationalization of goals emerged as key point many times; it amounted to a questioning of the seeming speed-fetishism and narrow focus on track length that seems to dominate parts of the political vision. From a pragmatic point of view more important success parameters were suggested such as the increase and better utilisation of capacity, customer service, door-to-door convenience, ticket price, contribution to regional development and public acceptability.
In the afternoon of the 2nd day, the workshop attendees had the chance to visit SNCF’s maintenance centre of high-speed trains. Upon their return back home they will soon be asked to review and comment on the workshop minutes in order to ensure that TRANSFORuM captures their views as accurately as possible.

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Ralf Brand

+49 221 6060 55 18

Lyon workshop