The development of high-speed rail as a new type of infrastructure has just over 50 years of existence since its introduction in Japan in the 1960s. Claims and counterclaims about the likely effect of HSR on rebalancing economic performance for cities and regions have existed ever since its inauguration. The debate is persistent as we are living in a world in which places are becoming more and more inter-related functionally while inequality between thriving and lagging places and the divide between the rich and the poor have widened significantly over recent decades.
Whilst ex-ante modelling of such effects had seen recent progress in estimating wider economic benefits of agglomeration economies. Ex post evidence is relatively scarce and often requires a fair amount of time to allow effects to take place. Meanwhile, once the HSR service begins, it is difficult to isolate the effects of the infrastructure from other factors and intervention. In fact, there is a growing realisation that the impact of HSR on cities could only be maximised when the HSR is part of a larger territorial development vision.
As Colin Clark (1958) famously remarked that transport is the maker and breaker of cities, to a large extent, such statement still holds true. Despite the advance of information communication technology (ICT), the notion of the “death of distance” has been refuted as empirical studies have demonstrated the geographical factors do still matter. Within this context new technological possibilities for innovative transport continue to emerge as one of the means of addressing economic and social disparities, though it is widely recognised that transport is a necessary but not sufficient condition to address inequality issues.
This talk will consist of three parts. Firstly, it will review the modern contexts where HSR has been developed; secondly, it will explore the persistent debate from both theoretical and empirical perspectives on the issue of territorial inequality; Thirdly, cases of new challenges and new directions for research and policy will be explored.
Dr Chia-Lin Chen, Lecturer in Urban Planning, in University of Liverpool (UoL) in London Campus. She has an architecture background in Taiwan and work experiences in Taipei County Government (currently New Taipei City Government) and Tainan County Government (currently Greater Tainan City Government). She received her PhD degree in Urban and Regional Planning Studies at University College London (UCL) in 2013. Her research interests lie in exploring and examining issues of transport and development on multiple spatial scales and seeking possible strategies for research, planning and design as well as policy implications.
Chia-Lin has published widely in the field of transport, planning, and geography and established her international research recognition on the topic of high-speed rail (HSR) and its wider spatial-economic impacts in the urban and regional transformation. She contributed to a couple of research consultancy work commissioned by Asian Development Bank and International Transport Forum, OECD. She is Vice Chair and Steering Committee Member of Transport and Geography Commission, International Geographical Union (2016- 2020). From 2018, she has been on the international editorial board of Journal of Transport Geography and a member of Award Committee for Regional Studies Association. At present, as the lead editor for a book project, entitled “Handbook of Research in Transport and Urban Transformation in Contemporary China”, she is devote to the handbook that is scheduled to be published in 2019.