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AECOM publishes new high-speed rail report presenting first-of-its-kind research on the future of rail delivery

Based on research conducted with over one hundred global high-speed rail industry decisionmakers, From Vision to Reality: a new high-speed rail playbook, explores pathways to success for fast, modern, integrated and sustainable rail services

AECOM, the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, today announced the launch of its new report, From Vision to Reality: a new high-speed rail playbook, which presents original quantitative and qualitative research conducted with 112 senior decision-makers involved in high-speed rail (HSR) projects globally. Informed by AECOM’s 30-year expertise in HSR design and delivery, the report, which is part of AECOM’s ongoing Future of Infrastructure thought leadership series, investigates the latest industry trends and outlines best practices for the successful delivery of HSR systems around the world.

Research presented in the report found that economic growth, technology, adaptability and on-time completion prove the most critical success factors in the first year of HSR operation. In the five-to-ten-year period post launch, top success factors shift to passenger experience and adaptability while the impact of project delays becomes less important.

Success factors also varied widely by region:

  • Europe’s primary success factors included a reduction in air/vehicle traffic, use of the latest technology, and future adaptability.
  • In North America, key success factors were regional economic growth, use of the latest technology, and passenger experience.
  • For the Asia and Pacific region, on-time completion, low environmental impact, and social benefits comprised the top key success factors.

“Through our extensive experience guiding clients across all stages of HSR delivery, we are finding that the global push toward the energy transition is propelling significant interest in this low-carbon mode of transportation,” said Troy Rudd, AECOM’s chief executive officer. “With such unprecedented demand and new funding opportunities worldwide, we’re excited to present this first-of-its-kind playbook to provide a comprehensive view of best practices that can accelerate the growth of HSR globally.”

The report takes both a global and region-specific approach to a spectrum of key HSR topics, including passenger experience, economic and social benefits, emissions reductions, regulatory and political factors, land use and funding concerns. Data is presented over immediate and five-to-ten-year timeframes and is supported by interviews from leaders across major HSR organizations, including Adif, High Speed 1, Brightline, the California High-Speed Rail Authority, NEOM, and China Railway Construction Company International (CRCCI).

“Our integrated transportation networks continue to evolve rapidly, and high-speed rail has a crucial role to play in this ongoing transformation,” said Lara Poloni, AECOM’s president. “It’s our hope that, through better understanding of the opportunities and challenges attached to these mega projects, existing networks can expand, and proposed networks can move from vision to reality, helping create thriving, connected communities.”

In response to industry headwinds, the report explores several best practices to streamline HSR delivery and facilitate the expansion of HSR networks globally:

  • Long-term decisive political leadership
  • New funding models
  • Greater trans-regional and international cooperation
  • New design and construction
  • Increased collaboration and industry outreach
  • User-centric design and engagement
  • Design to cost (DTC) and disciplined cost control

As Engineering News-Record’s 2023 top Transportation and Rail & Mass Transit firm, AECOM is the trusted delivery partner on some of the world’s largest, most transformative rail projects. The Company’s work includes California High-Speed Rail, HS1 in the UK, and Taiwan High-Speed Rail.

Read the report here. Watch the promotional video here.


AECOM is the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, delivering professional services throughout the project lifecycle – from advisory, planning, design and engineering to program and construction management. On projects spanning transportation, buildings, water, new energy, and the environment, our public- and private-sector clients trust us to solve their most complex challenges. Our teams are driven by a common purpose to deliver a better world through our unrivaled technical and digital expertise, a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to environmental, social and governance priorities. AECOM is a Fortune 500 firm and its Professional Services business had revenue of $14.4 billion in fiscal year 2023. See how we are delivering sustainable legacies for generations to come at and @AECOM.


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