;ey changed everything. But then came the automobile and the commercial airplane. ;ese innovations put rail projects on the back burner for the
better part of a century—yet the railroad’s best days
still might lie ahead.
A new generation of high-speed rail projects
promises to connect countries and continents like
never before, with more than 91,438 kilometers
( 56,817 miles) of new tracks being planned around
the globe, according to the International Union of
Railways. China alone has more than 17,000
kilometers ( 10,563 miles) of high-speed
rail in place, and is expected to nearly
triple that amount to 50,000 kilometers
( 31,069 miles) by 2020.
High-speed rail projects o;er shorter
travel times, increased commerce, less congestion, reduced oil dependency and fewer
carbon emissions. But to realize these bene;ts,
In the United Kingdom, for instance, experts
watching the £ 42. 6 billion High Speed 2 (HS2)
project predict that construction will commence
three years late—in 2020 instead of 2017—due
to poor planning, incomplete ;nancing and legal
challenges posed by project opponents. Last year,
Hong Kong’s mass transit authority announced
that a high-speed connection to mainland China
was three years behind schedule and would exceed
original cost estimates by 31 percent because of
“over-optimism” and contractor delays.
Morocco’s high-speed rail link between Tangier and
Casablanca also has exceeded original cost and timeline estimates. Originally scheduled to open in 2015
at a cost of US$4 billion, it’s now expected to begin
operating in 2018 and will cost up to 15 percent more
than initially projected, largely because of problems
with land acquisition. ;e list goes on and on.
“High-speed rail projects are massive not only
in terms of budget, but also the time needed to be
designed, built, tested and commissioned before
going into operation,” says Rubén Magán Ocaña,
PMP, a project manager for civil engineering ;rm
Ineco, in Muscat, Oman.
To navigate the interwoven problems posed by
wide-ranging stakeholder concerns, engineering
and design obstacles, and rapidly evolving technologies, project teams must rely on good practices outlined in PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Mr. Magán
“Challenges must be tackled … based on deep
planning, careful execution and intensive control of
the process,” he says.
For high-speed rail project teams, trouble often
starts with the land acquisition process, says Charles
Duan, PMP, a Beijing, China-based project manager
at Faiveley Transport, an international rail equipment manufacturer and supplier.
China alone has
more than 17,000
kilometers ( 10,563
miles) of high-
speed rail in place,
and is expected to
nearly triple that
amount to 50,000
kilometers ( 31,069
miles) by 2020.