A New Paradigm for the Assessment of High Speed Rail Projects and How to Contain Cost Overruns: Lessons from the EVA-TREN Project
15 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2011
Date Written: April 3, 2011
The appraisal of large-scale transport projects cannot be relied upon. A review of the EU Cohesion Fund programme reveals that one project in four incurs costs that are 20% above budget. Deviations in cost, duration and environmental impact are especially problematic because such investments usually last several years, yield significant impacts and their costs reach billions of Euros. Based on recent research and a critical review of the state-of-the-art in policy and scientific literature, this contribution investigates the causes of deviation between project appraisals and real outcomes. Its main argument is that projects with poor to average technical assessments are more likely to face changes in design and/or environmental and other requirements and, therefore, delays in implementation. This, in turn, leads to significant cost overruns. What this suggests is that project maturity is a function of the robustness of the technical and scientific expertise that underlies project appraisal, and that only such project maturity is a guarantee for efficient and effective implementation. On this basis it proposes a new framework for organizing transport infrastructure assessments and for monitoring the implementation process.
Keywords: infrastructure planning, project appraisal, assessment methods, trans-European networks, international comparison, cost-benefit analysis, demand evaluation, reference class, TEN, HST, HSR, AVE, ICE, TGV, EVA-TREN
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