Bimodal Use of High-Speed Rail Lines

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - track, planning - surveys, ridership - demand, mode - bus, mode - rail


Surveys, Spain, Service industries, Questionnaires, Passenger service, Interviewing, High speed track, Freight service, Demand, Businesses, Acceptability


Over the past decades, bimodal operation of conventional rail lines—the use of a rail line to carry both passengers and goods—has been studied and put into practice in railway engineering and planning efforts. However, the growing construction of high-speed rail lines in Europe has sparked serious controversy about the possibility of introducing bimodal services on this type of track. This controversy encompasses not only technical issue but also acceptability and economic issues. So far, little has been published about it. Bimodal use of high-speed rail lines is now practically nonexistent in Europe, and national governments do not have the necessary information on the feasibility of the system. The first Spanish high-speed railway started to run in April 1992 between Madrid and Seville and, until now, has been used to transport only passengers. The future Spanish high-speed network will be centered in Madrid and will cover more than 2,000 km over the next 15 years. Its operation with bimodal criteria is starting to be discussed as a way to reap maximum benefit from the high investment costs. This paper presents and analyzes the results of the first study on the acceptability of and the potential demand for bimodal use of a Spanish high-speed rail line. The term “acceptability” is used to describe the prospective judgment of measures to be introduced in the future. The target group for the study was a sample of users of the corridor of this high-speed rail line. As part of the study, more than 3,000 valid questionnaires were collected, and more than 50 companies interviewed.