Le transport ferroviaire de passagers aux Etats-Unis entre conflictualités institutionnelles, processus de territorialisation et ancrage métropolitain

Abstract : The subject of this research is intercity passenger rail transportation in the United States, approached from two perspectives: Amtrak’s traditional rail services and high-speed rail projects. The aim is to understand the workings of public rail transportation policies, what they contain, and how they are developed and pursued by the different actors. The originality of the research lies in its multiscale approach, with a constant back-and-forth between the different scales of analysis, and in its use of several case studies to analyze the territorialization of intercity rail transportation policies. The analysis demonstrates the emergence of a bottom-up approach to projects, notably apparent in the Californian HSR project and in the modernization of the Cascades corridor. This process has even gone to the extreme with the proliferation of private rail projects that stress their independence from government, be it in decision-making, governance, or funding. This seems definitively to preclude any attempt to establish a national framework for high-speed rail, like those found elsewhere in the world, regardless of party-political considerations, i.e. the traditionally greater enthusiasm of the Democratic Party for large-scale federal investment. Two conclusions emerge: first, the development of uniform arguments and recommendations to encourage new rail policies, emphasizing the structuring effects and economic role of high-speed rail, congestion reduction, modal shift; second, a tangible though uneven pro-rail position among public actors at all levels. Priority is placed on improving and modernizing existing corridors for the launch of higher-speed services, and then on hybrid networks that combine different types of infrastructures. There are no publicly backed projects for new lines exclusively dedicated to high-speed rail. Most of the high-speed corridors are in fact “higher-speed” corridors, some of which are intended to become high-speed at some time in the future, such as the Northeast corridor. The territorialization of rail projects entails the design and construction of transportation networks that are more integrated – at least in terms of service provision and physical connection – and genuinely interconnected. After analyzing projects for the upgrading of higher-speed corridors and the construction of new infrastructures, we note the importance of stations and the emphasis on the need for better coordination between transportation and urbanism through support for station districts. Indeed, a rail corridor project – situated at the intersection of political, economic, technical, and territorial interests – is the nucleus of a process of territorialization that materially embeds the infrastructure within urban spaces, and of a process of politicization through the involvement of local actors. Rail projects seem to be an instrument that leads to the implantation of metropolitan scale facilities (stations, intermodal hubs) and to the shaping or reshaping of the urban fabric (station districts, larger-scale district regeneration projects)
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Matthieu Schorung. Le transport ferroviaire de passagers aux Etats-Unis entre conflictualités institutionnelles, processus de territorialisation et ancrage métropolitain. Infrastructures de transport. Université Paris-Est, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PESC2016⟩. ⟨tel-02197401v2⟩

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