Deployment of high-speed passenger rail services has occurred around the world in densely-populated corridors, often with the effect of either creating or enhancing a unified economic “megaregion” agglomeration. This paper will review the technical characteristics of a variety of megaregion corridors, including Japan (Tokyo-Osaka), France (Paris-Lyon), and Germany (Frankfurt-Cologne), and their economic impacts. There are many lessons to be drawn from the deployment and ongoing operation of high-speed passenger rail service in these corridors for other countries now considering similar projects, such as the US and parts of the European Union. First, we will review three international cases, describing the physical development of each corridor as well as its measured impacts on economic development. In each case, the travel time reductions of the high-speed service transformed the economic boundaries of the urban agglomerations, integrating labor and consumer markets, while often simultaneously raising concerns about the balance of growth within the region. Moreover, high-speed travel within the regions has had important implications for the modes and patterns of travel beyond the region, particularly with respect to long-distance air travel. An example is the code-shared rail-air service between DeutscheBahn and Lufthansa in the Frankfurt-Cologne corridor. Next, we will examine the implications of these international experiences for high-speed rail deployment elsewhere in the world, particularly the US and Portugal, one of the EU countries investing in high-speed rail. Issues considered include the suitability of high-speed passenger rail service in existing megaregions as well as the potential for formation of megaregions in other corridors. By understanding the impact of high-speed passenger service on economic growth, labor markets, urban form, and the regional distribution of economic activity, planners can better anticipate and prepare countermeasures for any negative effects of high-speed rail. Examples of countermeasures include complementary investments in urban and regional transit connections and cooperation with airlines and other transportation service operators. High-speed passenger rail represents a substantial investment whose implementation and ultimate success depends on a wide range of factors. Among them is the ability of planners and decision-makers to make a strong case for the sharing of benefits across a broad geography, both within and beyond the megaregion (and potential megaregion) corridors where service is most likely to be provided. This paper provides some useful lessons based on international experiences.

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