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Planning High Speed Rail Stations for Sustainable Urban Development: European Case Studies

Planning High Speed Rail Stations for Sustainable Urban Development: European Case Studies

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This policy brief examines European best practices regarding urban integration of high speed rail stations to maximize local economic and urban development benefits.
This policy brief examines European best practices regarding urban integration of high speed rail stations to maximize local economic and urban development benefits.

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Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Feb 07, 2011
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This policy brief ex-amines European best practicesregarding urban integration of high speed rail (HSR) stations to maximize local economic andsustainable urban development
benets. The research goal was
 to identify lessons for cities inNorth America, especially in Cali-fornia, to achieve sustainabledevelopment through coordinat-ed land use and transportation
planning around HSR stations.
This brief summarizes researchconducted in Europe fromFebruary-May 2010 as a Com-
parative Domestic Policy Fellow
for the German Marshall Fund
of the United States, drawing onliterature review, site visits, andinterviews with transportation
professionals, urban planners,academics, and government of-
cials in Italy, France, Germany,and Spain.
Comparative Domestic Policy Program
Policy Brie 
High speed rail (HSR) is a relatively new and rapidly expanding trans-portation mode, one with potentially powerul benets or local economicdevelopment and urban orm aroundthe stations. European cities have longbeen shaped by rail transport, but HSRservice is creating new dynamics, withnew opportunities and challenges.Cities are seeking to maximize thebenets o HSR through coordinatedtransportation and land use planning,strengthening integrated mobility options that promote smart growthand livable communities.High speed rail is dened by the Euro-pean Union as rail service travelingat 160 mph (250 km/h) or aster onnew track, or 200 km/hr on existingtracks. Tracks are continuous weldedrail, and trains are electrically-poweredvia overhead lines, or a very smoothand quiet ride. HSR urther reducestravel times by eliminating roadway-level crossings and by not sharing theright-o-way with reight or slowerpassenger trains.
Planning High Speed Rail Stations for Sustainable Urban Development:European Case Studies
by Matt Nichols
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 683 2650F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
February 7, 2011
Matt Nichols is the principal transportation planner for the City of Berkeley, California. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or theCity of Berkeley.
Japan opened the rst HSR system, theShinkansen — oten reerred to as theBullet Train — in 1964. France estab-lished HSR in 1983 with the openingo the Paris-Lyon Train à GrandeVitesse (high-speed train), or TGV.HSR expanded with the Eurostar lineto the U.K. and in Germany, and beganto grow dramatically in the 1990s withrapid national expansion in Spain,Italy, and elsewhere. In Asia, Koreaand China built major HSR systems.Worldwide, HSR grew rom approxi-mately 3,100 to 6,200 miles (5,000-10,000 km) between 1997 and 2009.In 2009, an estimated 13,500 km o HSR was under construction. Planningwas underway or an additional 17,600km, with approximately hal o theplanned growth in Europe. The UnitedStates joined the HSR club in 2008,when a ederal allocation o $8 billionprovided support or nine HSR proj-ects. In Caliornia, $2.35 billion inederal unds and a $9.95 billion 2008state bond have given momentum tothe planned HSR system, which wouldrun 800 miles between 28 stations, and
Comparative Domestic Policy Program
Policy Brie 
make travel possible rom Los Angeles to San Francisco inas little as 2 hours and 38 minutes. This has tremendouspotential to transorm Caliornia’s transit system and thecities where stations will be built.
High Speed Rail and Urban Land Use
From the start, policymakers recognized the enormouspotential o HSR to shape urban orm and stimulateeconomic development. Japanese HSR stations wereintended to reduce low-density suburban development by concentrating new growth in mid-sized transit-orientedurban centers. France also coordinated HSR investmentwith land-use and economic planning to harness the urbaneconomic growth potential o HSR service.A great deal has been learned over the past 45 years aboutthese impacts. In the best cases, HSR has had strong posi-tive benets on the economic vitality o cities, increasingproperty values, creating jobs, and attracting new privateinvestment. HSR station area developments have revitalizedvacant industrial areas, attracted commercial and residentialdevelopment, and leveraged major inrastructure invest-ments. The cumulative benets o high speed rail on localand regional growth have been reerred to as “The HSREect.” In act, results have been mixed, and HSR does notautomatically deliver positive benets to all stations. Somestations remain disconnected and uninspiring; some citiesexperience ew ripple eects rom HSR developments. Thisbrie will ocus on several notable case studies where Euro-pean cities have succeeded in harnessing the impact o HSRto great advantage.
HSR station area developmentshave revitalized vacant industrialareas, attracted commercial andresidential development, andleveraged major infrastructure
Seeking the “HSR Effect”
In most cases, national policies and politics have played alarge role in determining initial HSR routes and stations.Existing rail connections with high ridership, such as theEurostar rom the U.K. to Paris, have been obvious choicesor HSR conversion. France has sought to use HSR lines andstation sites to generate economic transormation in ormerindustrial areas. In Spain, the HSR network was conceivedto shorten travel times rom all major cities to Madrid topromote national economic integration.At the local level, a variety o engineering, economic, andpolitical criteria have been used to determine the locationo the HSR stations. Cities with established central trainstations most oten simply expand to accommodate HSRservice. Other cities, such as Lyon, seized the opportunity to create a new, second central business district, placing thestation in an underdeveloped area and creating a stationarea plan and policies to attract and support growth. Stillothers are constructing their HSR urban tracks and stationsunderground, and utilizing the new surace area or urbanparks and to support growth. Many places are also investingheavily in light-rail and bus and bicycle connections tothe HSR stations, leveraging the major HSR inrastructureinvestments to develop integrated mobility options withmultiple benets to the economy and the community. Forthis brie, strategies or achieving the desired HSR eecthave been placed into three categories, and one or moreEuropean case studies are discussed in each category.
A. Integrated Station Area Planning
Cities should create and implement a master plan thatwill guide uture development around the station. Invest-ments or station area development, local transit, and otherinrastructure can be nanced with taxes or policy mecha-nisms that capture a portion o the increase in value o landaround successul HSR stations.
B. Make Local Connections
Strong local transit access is essential or HSR success: eventhough high-speed trains cannot travel as ast as airplanes,they can deliver travelers into the center o their destina-tion city, rather than to an airport ar outside o town. Toprovide a ast and convenient door-to-door travel experi-ence, HSR stations should be centrally located, supported
Comparative Domestic Policy Program
Policy Brie 
by good local transit, and integrated into a dense, mixed-useurban setting.
C. Creating Great Places
Policymakers and urban designers are increasingly recog-nizing the “place-making” power o HSR stations. HSRstations will be used by tens o thousands o people, socities should take advantage o the opportunity to creatememorable urban places, with new parks and open space aswell as residential and commercial growth.In Europe, “undergrounding,” the use o tunneling and cut-and-cover construction to cover over rail track, rail yards,and stations, has been a major element o HSR stationdevelopment. The new land created on top o rail acilitiesoers huge opportunities or creating new urban places.HSR stations can also provide iconic architecture, and otherurban design eatures to create more attractive places orbusiness and tourism.
Case Studies
In 2010, I visited several cities in Europe to investigate theirexperiences with high speed rail stations. Lyon, France,provides an excellent example o the value o IntegratedStation Area Planning. Madrid, Spain, has made incredibleprogress expanding local transit and multi-modal stations,which connect its HSR stations to the larger city. Barcelona,Spain, has just begun a major “urban place-making” project,which is creating a new HSR station area with housing,retail, and public parks.
Lyon, France
Lyon, in southeastern France, is the second largest Frenchcity with a population o approximately 1.2 million, and isan important business center. In 1981, it was the rst majorprovincial city served by the French high speed rail, theTGV. The 5-6 hour trip rom Paris to Lyon was reduced to just 2 hours. HSR travel between Paris and Lyon attractedmany riders immediately, while airline service between thetwo cities decreased. Beore the TGV, 31 percent o trav-elers between Paris and Lyon went by airplane; this sharedropped to just 7 percent ater TGV.Prior to the opening o the TGV, many had eared that itwould hurt regional business by opening Lyon to greatercompetition rom Paris. Instead, local businesses benettedrom being able to conduct business more easily with Paris,and Paris-based companies opened regional oces in Lyon.Research also ound that HSR did not simply switch airtrips to the train, but actually increased total trips. Nearly hal o all travel between the two cities was estimated tobe new, trips that had not occurred prior to HSR service.Growth in travel was largely rom increased business travelrom Paris-based rms traveling to subsidiary oces, androm Lyon-based businesses going to Paris. Tourism travelto Lyon also grew.Within Lyon, many businesses chose to locate near the newHSR rail station, Gare Part-Dieu. By 1990, the station areawas attracting 60 percent o new development projects inthe city, and the amount o oce space in the area grew by 43 percent. Today, the Part-Dieu area hosts 20,000 jobs andsome 5.3 million square eet o oce space.It is notable that Lyon chose not to locate the HSR stationat its existing Lyon Perrache station in the constrainedhistoric city center. The city center, located on a densely populated island, suered rom extreme trac congestion,
Prior to the opening of the TGV,
many had feared that it would hurt
regional business by opening Lyon
 to greater competition from Paris.Instead, local businesses benetted
from being able to conduct business
more easily with Paris, and Paris-
based companies opened regional
ofces in Lyon.

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