New Handbook Assesses High-Speed Rail Outlook and Societal Impacts

ADBI News Release | 13 March 2020

Tokyo, Japan - ADBI Press has newly published Handbook on High-Speed Rail and Quality of Life, an analysis of the sector’s development prospects and socioeconomic effects in a fast-changing and uncertain environment.

The handbook spotlights high-speed rail (HSR) projects in Asia and globally, examining policy lessons and strategies to address HSR growth challenges and increase the quality of life benefits in surrounding areas, amid new shocks linked to the novel coronavirus.

“Intercity mobility is crucial for sustained economic growth in Asia,” said handbook co-editor KE Seetha Ram, senior consulting specialist for capacity building and training projects at ADBI and a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo’s Center for Spatial Information Science. “The effects of COVID-19 concerns on transport connectivity may be significant, but HSR development will remain a priority in the region in the medium-to-long term given its potential to reliably and efficiently move people and goods.”

The handbook emphasizes planning, investment, construction, and spillover challenges in countries seeking to develop HSR in the next decade. Its case studies highlight the socioeconomic benefits of HSR infrastructure, which cannot be captured through econometric modeling alone.

“While there has been substantial research to measure HSR’s social and environmental impacts, there is no established methodology for doing so,” said handbook co-editor Yoshitsugu Hayashi, a professor at Chubu University and former World Conference on Transport Research Society president. “The handbook details a quality of life evaluation method that can help gauge HSR growth benefits in a more consistent and effective way.”

The handbook discusses various aspects of transport infrastructure projects, including project financing, environmental, economic, and social considerations, such as employment and safety.

“It can take as long as two or three decades to complete new HSR stations and fully develop the areas around them,” said Shreyas P. Bharule, handbook co-editor and an ADBI research associate. “Countries implementing HSR need to set long-term goals for sustainable urban development to maximize the potential socioeconomic advantages. This handbook offers a guide for undertaking this task,” he concluded.

The handbook can be downloaded for free. It is also available in paperback for $39 and can be ordered by contacting [email protected]. See the video summary of the handbook for more details.