INTRODUCTION\ud \ud By High Speed Rail (HSR) we normally mean rail technologies capable of speeds of the order of 300km ph on new dedicated track. Such systems offer journey times that are more competitive with other modes, and particularly air, than traditional train services, and very high capacity. But their capital cost is also high. The proposals of the European Commission for the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) envisage expenditure of 600b euros, of which 250b euros is for priority projects, and a large part of this expenditure is for high speed rail. Thus it is extremely important to have a robust appraisal methodology for these huge investments. It is not clear that this has happened in the case of the Trans European Networks. Individual projects are suggested by, and appraised by, member state governments, even though they are applying to the European Commission for assistance with funding. Research for the European Commission has appraised the TEN-T network as a whole, but has not appraised the individual elements of the programme to ensure that they are all worthwhile (TML, 2005). \ud \ud The aim of this paper is to consider the methodology for the appraisal of high speed rail proposals, and to produce some indication of the circumstances in which such proposals might be worthwhile. In the next section we present an overview of the principal costs and benefits which need to be taken into account in an HSR appraisal. Then we illustrate the process for two particular contrasting examples – the study of HSR proposals in Great Britain, and an ex post evaluation of the Madrid-Seville line in Spain. In section four of the paper we formulate a model to incorporate the principal parameters influencing the outcome of an appraisal and in section five we use this model to draw conclusions on the circumstances in which high speed rail may be justified
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