Intercity and High-Speed

High-Speed rail

A comprehensive system allowing door-to-door transportation
Growing environmental awareness due to the pandemic has resulted in a shift in customer mobility habits and has revived demand for low-carbon transport alternatives such as long-distance rail travel. With more passengers choosing to travel sustainably, HSR (High-Speed Rail) is often described as the transport mode of the future for many reasons. High-speed trains also play a key role in achieving regional integration and helping to create socio-economically balanced societies at global level.

The current evolutionary trend of the world HSR network shows a very sharp increase in the length of the network in Asian countries. Development and implementation of highspeed lines are being studied in all regions worldwide.

End-to-end transportation is a must and intermodal service complementarity is also one of the factors in the operational and financial success of HSR.

High-speed rail combines many different elements which constitute a “whole, integrated system”: an infrastructure for new lines designed for speeds of 250 km/h and above; upgraded existing lines for speeds of up to 200 or even 220 km/h, including interconnecting lines between high-speed sections; its rolling stock, especially designed specifically for train sets; telecommunications, signalling, operating conditions and equipment, etc. Technology is expected to have a major influence on infrastructure development over the next 20 years.

Since many high-speed trains are also compatible with the conventional network, the term “high-speed traffic” is also frequently used for the movements of such trains on conventional lines but at speeds lower than those allowed on high-speed infrastructure.

Over three billion passengers travel on highspeed trains each year. High-speed rail is continuing to develop around the world; there are now almost 56,000 km of lines in operation worldwide. In 30 years, this figure will have at least doubled.

Given the stronger demand for low-carbon transport alternatives such as long-distance rail travel, railway undertakings are launching, developing, or reviving night train services, with the aim of establishing new connections and enlarging the current night train network. This includes developing attractive services to meet the growing demands from passengers such as competitive travel times, comfort, good connectivity (thus fostering regional development between smaller cities and rural areas) as well as being more climate friendly.

For further information about high-speed rail history, please visit:

Intercity and High-Speed Committee

The Intercity and High-Speed Committee brings together several UIC railway members who are either active in long distance or high-speed rail domains in their day-to-day operations or have identified it as a development objective.

Committee plenary meetings and onsite technical visits provide opportunities to exchange best practice and discuss common problems. The ICHSC therefore greatly benefits attendees, offering the chance to identify solutions to common issues, compare approaches, or develop a global vision.

Studies are also conducted within the framework of the Committee to deepen understanding of particular subjects specific to long-distance and high-speed fields.

The Committee offers a wealth of expertise to members through discussions, communication, studies and projects.

UIC makes this expertise available in several ways: by means of the high-speed database and maps, and by issuing reference documents and numerous publications.

Presentation of the UIC Intercity and High-speed committee

Statistics – database and high-speed world

Each year UIC produces an atlas providing an overview of high-speed lines in the world: those in commercial operation, under construction, currently under development, and planned in the medium or long term.

The UIC High-Speed Rail Atlas is a unique document that provides very detailed information about all high-speed lines around the world, supplied and reviewed by UIC members.
For further information, please visit:

Alliance of Universities for High-Speed Rail

The UIC Alliance of Universities was established in 2015 under the aegis of UIC for the development of High-Speed Rail (HSR).

The Alliance is a global academic network including universities, institutes of technology, polytechnics, engineering, architecture and business schools that have shown substantial involvement in the development of high-speed railways.

For further information, please visit:

High-Speed Rail Projects

Research and publications
ICHSC members may also decide to work jointly on specific High-Speed Rail (HSR) studies. Recent projects under finalisation include:

  • A benchmark study aimed at anticipating the impact of autonomous road vehicles
  • A study for a better understanding of travel cost evolution, looking at HSR marginal cost and value of time
  • An innovative tool for decision-makers to understand and evaluate the operational efficiency of HSR, whether existing or planned
  • A benchmark study on customer experience based on specific methods and tools for CX assessment

Several other projects, covering cooperation between air and HS rail, artificial intelligence applied to HS, and the ‘New Normal’ post Covid pandemic, are underway.

Training on High-Speed Systems - Level I and Level II (THSS)
UIC members send employees to seminars organised by UIC for training on high-speed. The content is based on the state of the art and is delivered by recognised experts in the field, with two levels.

THSS Level I consists of a series of theoretical sessions and technical visits.

THSS Level II is more in-depth and makes use of the special tools developed by FFE.
Bespoke sessions can be proposed for groups of sufficient size at the request of UIC members.

UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail
The UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail offers direct access to people and ideas, all gathered in a single location. It is globally renowned as the most prominent and large-scale global event on high-speed rail.

Organised every two years, this Congress addresses strategic issues linked to the national and international development of high-speed rail systems.

The 11th UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail is cooperative achievement by UIC, China State Railway Group, Co., Ltd. (CR) and its affiliate China Academy of Railway Sciences Corporation Limited (CARS), in collaboration with all parties involved in high-speed rail around the world.

The UIC HIGHSPEED 2022, is a unique event mobilising policy makers, authorities, railway companies, suppliers, customers, research institutes, universities, etc. around the slogan “Intelligent solutions for a new world”.

The Congress is organised around three main blocks: sessions, an exhibition and technical visits. The venue is the National Railway Test Centre, from 28 June to 1 July 2022 in Beijing, with a new convention building, outdoor display tracks and over 10,000 m² of exhibition space. More than 100 exhibitors are expected.

International Railway Solutions – IRSs for high-speed rail

Technical harmonisation of the railway system has been a core objective of UIC, acting as an SSO (standards setting organisation), since its creation in 1922. Its members – the operators of the world’s railways – have, over the years, developed the “UIC Code”, comprising UIC leaflets, which define the common rules that apply to ensure safety and efficiency in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the railway system. A significant number of these deliverables are used outside the railway operating community. UIC now produces IRSs, produced through collaboration and consensus, to meet the business needs of the railway operating community (ROC). The IRSs set out harmonised operational requirements, generic methodologies and assessment criteria for the efficient design, construction, operation and maintenance of rail systems.

The IRSs for high-speed rail are a subset of the overall series of IRSs and come under the remit of the Intercity & High-Speed Committee.
The IRS HS working group meets regularly to produce new IRSs or to update/migrate UIC leaflets to become IRSs.

IRS 60661: Railway application – HighSpeed – Dynamic integration tests and trial operation before revenue operation review, published in October 2020:

IRS 60680: Design of a High-Speed Railway – Infrastructure: launched for production in December 2020.
IRS 6068: Design of a High-Speed Railway – Signalling and Communication: launched for production in December 2020.
IRS 60682: Design of a High-Speed Railway – Energy: Draft 4.1, 7th edition, endorsed by GPF in April 2021.
IRS 60683: Design of a High-Speed Railway – Interfaces: approval is planned in first quarter 2022.
IRS 60660: Compatibility of High-Speed trains: started in 2021.
IRS 70734: Adaptation of safety installations to High-Speed: started in 2021.

Night Trains Working Group

During the June 2021 plenary session of the UIC Intercity and High-Speed Committee, the ICHSC members decided on the creation of a Night Train Working Group Committee with the aim to meet the growing demands from passengers such as competitive travel times, comfort, good connectivity as well as being more climate friendly.

The aim is for night trains to play an important role in the post-pandemic world and significantly contribute to reduce transport emissions. In Europe, given the vision for 2030 of a network with 15 domestic overnight lines, the challenge for the working group is to work as a team and capture this market of approximately 10 million passengers per year, mostly shifted from planes and cars, also representing an important saving of CO2.

The main goals of this UIC Night Train Working Group are to:

  • Build a partnership bringing together the night trains players
  • Implement standards for coaches and sales systems
  • Strengthen the economic situation of night trains
  • Specify path fees/track access charges for night trains

In addition, the creation of this Working Group is an opportunity to share best practice and develop common projects and standards in the areas of rolling stock, operations, corridors, cross-border, business and economic models, and on-board services.

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Thursday 7 February 2019