On 1 July, UIC participated in the conference in London organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and dedicated this year to the theme “Engineering an Integrated Network”, promoting the development of new high speed services and links in UK, hopefully interfacing with each other and forming a fully integrated high speed system with the one existing on the continent.
Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, took part in the session 2 – High-Speed Engineering and Operation Case Studies.
Rail needs big investments, especially High Speed, which needs a long cycle time for the return on these investments or just the time of construction, and also which is best placed on international corridors. But what happens is exactly the opposite and this is because rail has within itself a number of fundamental values that goes beyond these difficulties: safety, capacity, sustainability, land planning, growth, as GDP comes wherever high speed arrives, jobs of course for the construction but also for the accompaniment of this growth of business and economy. So rail and high speed should be looked at more than through the spectrum of its technical performance and also through the added-value it has for society and the economy".
Rail is a solution but it is not a solution in itself, not alone. We are in a century where money and space are not enough in proportion to continue like in the second part of the 20th century to develop competing modes with each other. We now need to have a complementarity of modes with rail as a backbone of a multimodal transport master scheme. But this needs new vision, this needs better perception of rail added-value for society, especially the approach to external costs and it also needs a special focus on stations for passengers and hubs for goods because we are more and more in a customer orientated vision which is trying find solutions to door-to-door needs and not station-to-station needs.
And last but not least, it needs innovation. All of this has applied to High Speed. 50 years ago, in 1964 it was the first Shinkansen, 33 years ago, the first TGV and then a number of projects, 20 years ago the first High Speed one, here. We are using today a technology pre-viewed 50 years ago… but what about in 50 years?
High speed has been the answer to the need of mobility between big cities with a lot of attractivity in terms of populations which creates the market and then the expected profitability. High speed has also been a jump in innovation, speeds of 240/260 were mentioned, now we are talking of 400 km/hour, and this is not just pure dreams, this is the test demonstrations (in Korea for example), in terms of aero dynamism, in terms of energy".
Again, High Speed is an answer, but High Speed is not an answer alone. Of course it is a solution as I said to the attractivity between large concentrations of populations, but this is not enough, we also need to connect with smaller cities, with airports. No one today would imagine a bigger airport without a railway station and high speed trains connecting to it; 10 years ago it was a fantasy. So we need to develop the hub and spoke concept in a master plan not of attractivity but of connectivity to increase benefits for more customers to optimise time saved door-to-door and not station-to-station – so as to improve the profitability not only for the operator but for society. All this is part of, and has been part, of the HS1 equation. But if I may say HS1 is just one high speed line linking London and Kent to the continent. HS1 plus HS2 is becoming a network connected to the European system network. UIC aims mainly to promote rail as backbone of modern mobility through interoperability between rail systems as well as between rail modes. I am happy to be there today, but in more general terms to promote HS2 as a major breakthrough for European integration”.