Connecting regions through rail

Panel Session


23 May


16:30 to 18:00


Hall 2, Level +1

Many urban areas depend on railways to move very large and ever increasing numbers of commuters. Medium-distance rail services (50-200km) have an important role in regional integration, including across borders. High-speed rail has fostered the development of mega-regions creating bustling networks of urban centers and offering a lower emission alternative to air or car travel. Rail plays a critical role in the development of sustainable cities, inclusive regions and mitigation of climate change. Yet, rail’s successful contribution to the sustainable and inclusive economic development of regions depends on how well matched regional characteristics and rail systems configurations are. New opportunities and challenges arising from growing urbanisation, emerging societal trends and new mobility services need to be integrated into planning for the development of rail services. This session will discuss these advantages and drawbacks and the unique features of rail in fostering connectivity at different regional levels.

Key facts:

By 2050 urban population is expected to be 66% of the total world population, up from 54% in 2015. Over the past decade personal vehicles have been responsible for most of the growth (76%) in urban passenger activity.

Electricity accounts for 39% of the global railways energy fuel mix, 68% in Europe, far above any other transport mode.

Energy use per passenger-km of high-speed rail is about 90% lower than aviation. CO2 emission intensity of urban rail per passenger-km is less than one tenth of passenger light duty vehicles.

Lead questions:

  • How should rail change in the 21st century to improve urban connectivity and be a part of a seamless multimodal offer?
  • How can sufficient funds be generated for adequate rail and metro systems to serve the mobility  needs of large cities?
  • What are examples of effective rail systems connecting regions over short and medium distances within a country and across borders?
  • When is high-speed rail the right option? What are effective investment strategies to ensure that high-speed rail is well integrated with other transport systems (i.e. local rail, metro systems), as well as across regions and across borders?
  • Rail vs. air travel: which are their advantages and drawbacks (i.e. competition in terms of economic benefits, environmental and climate change aspects)?

Background reading:


Sassi Hammami

Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport, Tunisia

Jerry Zhe Li

Deputy Director, Strategy, Innovation and Technology

MTR Corporation

Anton Sevastyanov

Director, Investment Development Department

Moscow Metro

Akiko Yoshida

Assistant Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Japan

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Björn Westerberg


Association of Swedish Train Operating Companies

Ali Aslan

TV host and journalist

Libor Lochman

Executive Director

Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)