Anthony Perl is Director of the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia; he has previously worked at the City University of New York, the University of Calgary, and Université Lumière in Lyon, France. He has authored or co-authored four books, most recently Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil (2010). Anthony's research crosses disciplinary and national boundaries to explore the policy decisions that affect transportation, cities and the environment. He has published in scholarly journals such as Energy Policy, Transportation Research, Transportation Quarterly, World Transport Policy and Practice, and Scientific American. Perl’s work been awarded prizes for outstanding papers presented at the World Conference on Transport Research and the Canadian Transportation Research Forum. He currently chairs the Rail Group of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council.
Writing a White Paper for the University of Denver's Intermodal Transportation Institute about America's high speed passenger rail potential has reinforced my conviction: Closing the gap between where the U.S. has been, and where the rest of the world is going, with fast passenger trains will require drawing lessons about how, and why, past efforts to put passenger railroading into high gear on this continent fell short of the passenger rail revolution that has swept Asia and Europe.
The Highspeed 2012 Congress, co-hosted by the American Public Transportation Association and the International Railway Union in Philadelphia from July 10 to 13, offered a smorgasbord of knowledge about high speed rail around the world. Now that I've had a chance to digest many of the ideas, information, and opinions that were presented during the Congress, two contrasting dimensions of America's struggle to make HSR work stand out in my mind.
After a half-century, America's celebrated cooperative model of transportation research has gained a railroad focus.
North America's marathon journey to renewing its passenger trains could gain a measure of inspiration this summer, when the world's expertise in deploying and operating high speed rail will be concentrated on this continent for the first time in at least 75 years. For a week in July, the world's best and brightest high speed train designers, developers, and operators will gather in Philadelphia for the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail. Branded as "Highspeed 2012," this meeting of minds will be a co-production of the International Union of Railways (known by its French acronym, UIC), the industry association based in Paris, and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).