High Speed Rail and Air - What We Do Know and What We Do Not Know

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Matthew A. Coogan, Director of the New England Transportation Institute
November 4, 2009

 Matthew Coogan, Director of the New England Transportation Institute, asks, What do we know about the predicted impact of high speed rail (HSR) on the rest of the multimodal transportation system? What are the diversions from air that are expected? What are the implications of such diversions from air to rail for relieving airport congestion, based on the American experience to date? What are the potential roles for rail to actually complement longer distance aviation system by providing shorter distance feeders services to airports? The presentation reviews new, unpublished data concerning the role of high speed rail in providing complementary feeder services in two case studies from the Frankfurt International Airport, as well as providing a review of presently existing complementary services in the United States. He presents a comparison of the expected impact of potential high-speed rail systems in the California mega-region and the Northeast mega-region, from New England to Washington DC. Summaries of existing short/moderate distance trip making are reviewed, comparing both the volume and the mode of short distance trip making in the two regions. He compares the scale of demand for short/moderate distance HSR rail in the United States with successful operations in Europe. His presentation summarizes the evident implications for the future of multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional planning in the two coastal mega-regions. Proposed actions to improve the quality of tools for the planning and analysis of longer distanced multi-modal investment strategies are discussed.