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HST Conference Brussels «  Back
Policymakers debated the strategic direction of Europe's fast train network and heard examples of practical investments to add value and unlock the potential of high speed rail to address major issues on the EU political agenda, such as promoting economic growth, urban regeneration and environmental protection.

The Beyond Rail conference focused on the work of two large EU-funded high speed train investment and research projects, HST4i and HSTconnect, which group partners from five countries through the INTERREG IIIB programme. The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is lead partner.

The conference featured updates on the latest political thinking from European Commission Director General for Regional Policy Graham Meadows, Winfried Kleinegris from the Directorate General for Energy and Transport, and Transport Committee MEP Brian Simpson.

We can see that this can become a very, very powerful force for animating the drive towards greater economic competitiveness, greater growth, faster gains in the quality of life of our citizens, and we want to keep building on the bases that have been developed in this kind of project, Mr. Meadows said in a video interview recorded for the event.

Michael Robson, Secretary General of the European Rail Infrastructure Managers Association (EIM), gave an industry perspective, along with Thalys Chief Executive Jean-Michel Dancoisne who joined a lively panel discussion moderated by international journalist and broadcaster Nik Gowing.

A prominent theme both in that discussion and in several presentations and delegate contributions was a perceived lack of high-level political leadership to overcome obstacles in delivering truly trans-national rail services. That vacuum of vision was also expressed in the presentation of a study into the strategic policy environment for high speed rail planning in Europe, one of three specially commissioned sets of research to be aired at the conference.

The 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority's acting head of rail Colette Carroll presented London's strategy for the public transport games, which will revolve around well-connected trains and the high-speed Javelin shuttle between central London, Stratford and Ebbsfleet to get athletes and spectators to and from the Games while keeping London moving. Land Securities Development Director Adam Cunnington then gave a vision of the large-scale urban redevelopment plans around Ebbsfleet.

HST project partners detailed strategic investments to improve cross-border feedering from the Leiedal region of Belgium into Lille, and from Heerlen at the southern tip of the Netherlands into Aachen. In both cases, the partners faced and overcame a range of obstacles related to connecting rail across national frontiers and shared the secrets of their success.

A full agenda, speaker biographies, images, and copies of all presentations are available to download at


cities&regions transport&it water&flood risks nature&heritage seas&ports