Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
The purpose of this thesis is to examine, based on a study of the regional high-speed corridors in the Stockholm-Mälaren Region, the possibilities for regional high-speed rail in Melbourne-regional Victoria (Australia) to improve accessibility, and achieve regional development and balanced growth between the capital and its surrounding regions. It deals with the concept of 'regional' high-speed rail, a variant of classic high-speed rail that serves centres along regional corridors stemming from a large city and whose travel purpose includes a high share of daily commuting and occasional business and leisure travel with journey times of up to two hours.
The literature review reveals an emerging market for regional high-speed rail, which also has the potential to stimulate regional development and give rise to a complementary polycentric structure, subject to appropriate supporting conditions. The link between high-speed rail and regional development is based on the assumption that increased accessibility expands labour markets and offers people and firms wider location choices by permitting longer commuting.
The Stockholm-Mälaren region analysis includes a review of the past-studied Svealand line, a comparative study of city groups and case studies. Key outcomes are summarised as follows:
• Regional centres have in general strongly benefited from a high-speed rail connection, a finding supported by steadily increasing commuting, and population and job growth.
• Cities within one hour of Stockholm experienced the greatest increase in commuting that was matched by consistently positive population and emerging job growth; these centres have benefited the most from high-speed, which reinforced ongoing activities.
• Small-medium cities greater than one hour from Stockholm suffering population and job decline experienced recovery to neutral or positive growth with the introduction of high-speed; these centres depend on supportive strategies to fully capture its benefits, particularly those that foster inter-city exchange and the formation of city networks.
• Supportive strategies for high-speed rail include: public transport coordination, station redevelopment, establishment of public offices and measures for inter-city exchange.
Regional high-speed rail is proposed in Melbourne-regional Victoria based on the application of speed enhancements (to 160, 200 and 250 km/h) on existing rail corridors, which reduce travel times between Melbourne and regional centres, facilitating increased commuting and stimulating regional development. The key outcomes are summarised as follows:
• The improvement of inner lines to 200-250 km/h and outer lines to 160 km/h achieves an efficient balance between improved accessibility and economy in the short-medium term; future enhancements include peripheral links and higher speeds on outer lines.
• Upgrading lines to true ‘high-speed’ status requires electrification, modern signalling and track improvements, which deliver improved run times for the higher investment.
• Estimated demand growth factors range from 1.4 to 2.0 depending on speed and route.
• Positive regional development effects are expected if appropriate supportive strategies are applied, especially ones that support economic specialisation and city networking.
2012. , 129 p.