High-Speed Rail and the development of interlocking firm networks of the knowledge economy in Germany and Europe

Authors: Fabian Wenner*, Technical University of Munich, Chair of Urban Development, Michael Bentlage, Technical University of Munich, Chair of Urban Development, Alain Thierstein, Technical University of Munich, Chair of Urban Development
Topics: Economic Geography, Transportation Geography, Europe
Keywords: High Speed Rail, Knowledge Economy, Firm Networks, Accessibility
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Accessibility is a key location factor for knowledge-intensive companies. Most importantly, spatial accessibility enables actors to meet in person and obtain non-codified knowledge, which is key for innovation processes. Currently, upgrading and new construction of rail infrastructure, especially in the form of High-Speed Rail (HSR), has appeared back on the agenda of policymakers particularly in Asia and Europe. HSR, typically defined as running at 250 km/h or more, is competitive with both car and air travel in medium distances between about 150 and 1000 km, and usually connects the centres of agglomerations and larger cities, but sometimes also smaller municipalities en-route, greatly increasing their accessibility. At the same time, conventional rail services that serve intermediate cities are sometimes discontinued where a parallel HSR line is opened. The expansion of HSR raises the question if, and how, intra-firm networks of knowledge-intensive companies adapt to changes in rail-based accessibility. We assume that increased accessibility of urban centres is reflected by a spatial polarisation of the intra-firm networks between the dense, urban agglomerations on the one hand and smaller, peripheral areas on the other. The paper begins with a connectivity analysis based on the Interlocking Network Model with 270 advanced producer services (APS) for the years 2009 and 2019. The firm sample includes the 30 largest firms of several APS branches each in Germany and their locations worldwide. We then build and use an accessibility model for European rail transport to explain the changes in connectivity.

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