High-speed rail investment: A butterfly effect for urban chaos

High-speed rail investment: A butterfly effect for urban chaos

In 1969, Professor Edward Norton Lorenz coined the term “butterfly effect” to state that subtle changes in conditions can influence or cause seemingly unrelated results elsewhere. The flutter of a butterfly’s wings at place A can eventually develop into a hurricane at place B even though A and B are not related. Almost two decades after the term was coined, Japan National Railways (JNR) was privatized and split into several corporations, and now JR East manages the largest network of railway lines in Japan. JR East also runs the longest shinkansen (high-speed rail) line in Japan and has cut the travel time between the historical economic centres of Japan. Over a period of 50 years, the shinkansen line, along with major highways, has become the spine of one of the most important regional economic belt developments in the world.

A city can be imagined as a complex organism with interlinked functions. For instance, urban life in any city is extremely intertwined, and the interdependencies of networks of activities are endless. A high-speed rail (HSR) line is one such link connecting important hubs through networks of cities. There has been a growing awareness in the governments of various nations about how vital it is to start thinking more strategically in ways to encourage growth and wellbeing while reducing regional disparity, divides, and polarization.

ADBI hosted the first two of a series of seminars on Planning, Implementation, and Operating High-Speed Railways in Asia. The seminars brought together experts from ADBI and other eminent institutions who have been researching aspects related to HSR development. The sessions identified the impacts and effects of HSR introduction in different parts of Asia. The discussions on the spill-over effects of infrastructure investments such as HSR indicated impacts ranging from <a target=_blank …continue reading