High-speed rail (HSR) has emerged as one of the most revolutionary and transformative transportation technologies, having a profound impact on urban-regional accessibility and inter-city travel across Europe, Japan, and more recently China and other Asian countries. One of HSR’s biggest advantages over air travel is that it offers passengers a one-seat ride into the center of major cities, eliminating time-consuming airport transfers and wait times, and providing ample opportunities for intermodal transfers at these locales. Thus, HSR passengers are typically able to arrive at stations that are only a short walk away from central business districts and major tourist attractions, without experiencing any of the stress that car drivers often experience in negotiating such highly congested environments. Such an approach requires a high level of coordination and planning of the infrastructural and spatial aspects of the HSR service, and a high degree of intermodal connectivity. But what key elements can help the US high-speed rail system blend successfully with other existing rail and transit services? That question is critically important now that high-speed rail is under construction in California. The study seeks to understand the requirements for high levels of connectivity and spatial and operational integration of HSR stations and offer recommendations for seamless, and convenient integrated service in California intercity rail/HSR stations. The study draws data from a review of the literature on the connectivity, intermodality, and spatial and operational integration of transit systems; a survey of 26 high-speed rail experts from six different European countries; and an in-depth look of the German and Spanish HSR systems and some of their stations, which are deemed as exemplary models of station connectivity. The study offers recommendations on how to enhance both the spatial and the operational connectivity of high-speed rail systems giving emphasis on four spatial zones: the station, the station neighborhood, the municipality at large, and the region.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Sustainable Transportation and Land Use, Transit and Passenger Rail

MTI Project



High-speed rail, Blended systems, Intermodal connectivity