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An Analysis of Single Track Rail Operation

An Analysis of Single Track Rail Operation

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Dimitris Giannakakis on Jan 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The term “high speed” is a vague term as it can have different meanings in different places,

but also as its definition can change over time, e.g. due to advancement of railway

technology. At the moment, the definition of HSR which is recognised in several places

around the world is set by the European Union (EU) Directive 96/84/EC and supported by the

Union Internationale des Chemins de fer (UIC), also known as International Union of

Railways. Principally, the EU Directive defines HSR as where the infrastructure and rolling

stock allows for services of 250km/h or more. An extract of the Directive is given


Figure 2 - Definition of High Speed Rail (The Council Of The European Union, 1996)

As mentioned above, this definition is only affective in the EU, even though it is recognised

in other places as well. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DoT) Federal

An Analysis of Single Track High Speed Rail Operation

May 2011

Sam Paul Singh Pawar


Railroad Administration (FRA) has defined high speed rail into three different categories in

their latest strategy and vision for HSR in America (Federal Railroad Administration, 2009).

Express High Speed Rail – top speed of 150 mph (ca 240 km/h), distances of 200 –
600 miles (ca 320 – 970 km) completely grade separated.

Regional High Speed Rail – top speed of 110 – 150 mph (ca 180 – 240 km/h),
distances of 100 – 500 miles (ca 100 – 800 km) and grade separated.

Emerging High Speed Rail – top speed of 90 – 110 mph (150 – 180 km/h), distances
of 100 – 500 miles (ca 100 – 800 km) on primarily shared track (upgraded).

Another common term is the “Very High Speed Rail” which is quite often used, also within
the EU. This term is often used for systems operating with speeds higher than 250km/h, e.g.

300km/h and upwards as high as 500km/h.

Despite the different definitions of HSR, this report recognise HSR as rail systems with

infrastructure and rolling stock capable of operating services at speeds of 250km/h and above.

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