In a conventional intercity rail system (A), the rail station of every single town can be serviced, but each stop involves delays. Alternating express (selected stops) and local train (every stop) services is often a strategy to mitigate this problem. The construction of a high-speed rail line (B) usually follows a more direct path and is associated with two main changes:
- The first concerns the abandonment of the intercity rail line and several of the stations it services, which is known as the bypass effect. This does not necessarily imply that the rail line or the stations are shut down, but that they are no longer used for intercity transport. They can still be used for local commuting, such as feeder services to high-speed rail stations. Centers of lower importance are usually bypassed.
- The second change concerns either the upgrade of existing stations to accommodate high-speed services or the construction of new stations, often at the edge of the city, which creates new growth poles.