High-speed rail infrastructures support the fastest and safest passenger ground transportation mode in existence. Since these infrastructures represent a major achievement of human ingenuity, they are expected to be exceptional. However, the cost of high-speed rail infrastructure does not have to mirror such exceptional status under all circumstances. Well documented yet underutilized civil engineering concepts and features exist that carry considerable cost reduction potentials. They are based on experience with strategic project structuring, appreciation of dynamic track/train interaction trends that control high speed movement, maintenance experience, and component testing. Their utilization is often contingent upon engineering necessary to perform adjustments due to specific conditions, and on availability of verification testing to overcome the established status quo.
This article is based on practical consulting and operational experience. The presented issues include concepts of cost-effective positioning of civil engineering subsystems in a high-speed rail project, detection and avoidance of cost-rising zones by alignment selection, trackwork geometries and structural features justifying major reductions of horizontal radii, cost-effective selection and use of slabtrack, and cost minimization steps recommended in high-speed rail tunnel design. Supportive theoretical backgrounds exist; however, their presentation would require several papers.