CFP: High Speed Ground Transport in the United States

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Call for Papers




While the literature on high speed ground transport, including railways, maglev “trains,” and so-called personal rapid transit, is relatively broad and deep for Europe and Asia, the same is not true for the United States--probably because, after World War II, few American high speed projects were ever put into commercial service. This leaves significant aspects of USA ground transport history not well researched, including but not limited to initiatives to develop and commercialize frictionless vehicles in the 1960s and 1970s, and hyperloop vehicles in the past two decades; the experience of “higher speed” rail lines in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Florida which, arguably, are generating profits; and the partial implementation of very high speed rail projects in Texas and California, among other developments.

To address gaps in USA high speed ground transport literature, the Journal of Transport History will publish a Special Issue devoted to this topic. For purposes of this issue, “high speed” means technology or modes of transport that move significantly faster than in a previous period, such as early trains compared to horse-drawn vehicles. Thus, studies from the eighteenth century to the present, and studies contrasting speed and slowness, are welcome. The focus should be on passenger transport, though articles can also consider relationships to freight and/or to air and highway modes. Finally, while primary emphasis should be on the USA, the editors encourage transnational and geopolitical perspectives, including, for example, analysis of the role of technology transfer and foreign export strategies, and of how and why the USA fell so far behind Europe and Asia in high speed ground transport.

Authors are encouraged to contextualize their empirical research in terms of relationships between types and forms of mobility and the structuring of space and territory; between modes of transport, climate change, and sustainability; between ever-faster transport and economic development; between political-economic regimes and governance systems and financing high speed ground transport; between high speed and cultural factors (e.g., modernism, national pride, etcetera); or within another relevant broader conceptual and theoretical context.

The Special Issue will be guest edited by James Cohen (, from The City University of New York, who will select (with JTH´s editorship) papers based on their thematic fit, originality and scholarly rigor.

Abstracts (400 words max + 1-page CV) can be submitted until September 30, 2020 to Full written papers of up to 8,000 words (including endnotes and abstract) must be based on archival and other primary source research. The deadline for the submission of full articles will be May 2021. The exact date depends on when archives and research facilities re-open around the world, as well as other coronavirus-related contingencies. While these contingencies may also affect the journal’s print-publication date, currently scheduled for early 2022, they will not prevent JTH from posting online articles on-line as soon as they are accepted for publication.

Papers will be subject to a double blind review process. About JTH and submissions:


Contact Info: 

James Cohen, Professor Emeritus, The City University of New York; Associate Director, Research Initiatives, Institute for Transportation Systems, The City University of New York


Contact Email: