May 22th 2024 | 4:49


Bilbao and Manchester case studies in the attraction of cities without dependence on the railway

Basque companies in the first hydrogen AVE

Jesus Carames

April 15, 2024 | 6:45 p.m.

The AVE will arrive in Bilbao in 2027

The attractiveness of a city does not depend exclusively on its rail connectivity, although this can play an important role in regional mobility. The true measure of a city's attractiveness lies in its ability to create an environment conducive to business, innovation and quality of life. Notable examples of this are Bilbao and Manchester, which have transformed their global appeal through innovation and development, beyond rail connections.

The resurgence of Bilbao: A model of urban regeneration

A few decades ago, Bilbao was not exactly a prominent tourist destination in northern Spain. However, significant urban interventions in the late 1997th century transformed the city into a vibrant cultural and business center. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, inaugurated in XNUMX, is frequently cited as a catalyst for this change, giving rise to the so-called "Bilbao effect", which highlights the positive impact of investment in cultural infrastructure on urban regeneration and tourism. This phenomenon has shown that cities can revive their economies and raise their international profile regardless of their rail connectivity.

Manchester: Economic diversification and air connectivity

As the UK's third largest city, Manchester has shown that economic diversification and strong air connectivity can offset reduced reliance on intercontinental rail connections. With an airport offering flights to global destinations such as Dubai and Hong Kong, Manchester has attracted significant investment in sectors such as finance and technology, stimulating its local economy and attracting high-profile companies.

The importance of air connectivity over rail connectivity

The experience of Bilbao and Manchester underlines that air connectivity may be more crucial for attracting cities than rail, especially in the context of globalization and international business. While rail is vital for regional and national mobility, airports facilitate global reach that trains cannot offer, especially in non-capital cities or cities far from major rail hubs.

The development of Bilbao and Manchester illustrates how cities can prosper and attract international visitors and businesses through strategies that do not rely exclusively on rail. These cases demonstrate that with the right policies and investment in key infrastructure, cities can overcome geographic or infrastructural limitations and position themselves as leaders in the global economy. Urban planning and investment in culture and technology are, therefore, crucial for the attraction and growth of cities in the 21st century.

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