HIGH-SPEED RAIL SERVICES IN SPAIN AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO POPULATION GROWTH
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JOSÉ LUIS MIRALLES I GARCIA
High-speed rail (HSR) services started in Spain in 1992. Today in Spain, there are 2,514 km of HSR with International Union of Railways (UIC) width. Between 1992 and today, 26 years later, several economic cycles have taken place in Spain: the economic crisis of 1991–1996, the economic expansion of 1997–2007 and the economic crisis of 2008–2018. Therefore, it is possible to analyse the behaviour of different cities with HSR services including periods of economic expansion and crisis. Different authors have studied urban development dependent on HSR services in different countries. This question is not simple. According to classical theory, new transport infrastructure brings comparative advantages to cities with new services, but, although necessary, transport infrastructure is not sufficient to bring about economic development. Previous research has analysed the relationship between HSR services and population growth for those cities with HSR services, as opposed to all cities without HSR services and, particularly, the case of inland small cities with/without HSR services. On the other hand, in Spain, there are four large groups of cities: cities in metropolitan areas, coastal small- to medium-sized cities, inland small- to medium-sized cities and very small cities. This article shows the research into the relationship between HSR services and population growth in metropolitan areas and coastal small–medium cities from 1992 to today. This research complements the findings of previous research. The results show that, in general but not always, new HSR services are associated with greater population growth as an index of economic growth. Therefore, the results contrast with the hypothesis that infrastructure is necessary but not enough to bring about economic growth, and this economic growth also depends on other factors such as city size, distance to core city and the city’s own economic activities.
HSR territorial impact, regional development, urban development, cities’ system