A structuring effect on territories? Rail as a tool and symbol of regional construction in the south of France

By Bruno Revelli

This article shows how the new Occitania region in the south of France used the belief in territorial impacts of rail transport to embody a regional unity undermined by the administrative restructuring of the region in January 2016. A diachronic approach makes it possible to trace the origins of this belief and how it relies on an ambivalent railway imaginary dating back to the 19th century. This imaginary makes rail transport both a vector of economic development and an element of disruption of local urban systems. The article also shows how this myth has been maintained and reinforced through the former regional transport policies that resulted in a strengthening of rail services within the former regional perimeters. To this end, an accessibility index is constructed to measure the evolution of these services since decentralization. In addition to this quantitative approach, the methodology used is based on the analysis of speeches by elected officials, communication documents and existing research, which all contribute to maintaining this belief to different degrees.

  • transport policy
  • rail transport
  • transport infrastructure
  • regional cohesion
  • Occitania (France)
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info