The Future for Interurban Passenger Transport

The Future for Interurban Passenger Transport

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International Transport Forum

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04 May 2010
9789282102688 (PDF) ;9789282102657(print)

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Economic growth, trade and the concentration of population in large cities will intensify demand for interurban transport services. Concurrently, the need to manage environmental impacts effectively will increase. How successful we are in coping with demand will depend on our ability to innovate, to manage congestion, and to improve the quality of transport services. Technological and regulatory innovation will shape the future of transport.

These conference proceedings bring together ideas from leading transport researchers from around the world related to the future for interurban passenger transport..  A first set of papers investigates what drives demand for interurban passenger transport and infers how it may evolve in the future.  The remaining papers investigate transport policy issues that emerge as key challenges: when to invest in high-speed rail, how to regulate to ensure efficient operation, how to assign infrastructure to different types of users, and how to control transport’s environmental footprint by managing modal split and improving modal performance.

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  • Summary of Discussions
    The Symposium brought together leading transport researchers from around the world to explore a range of issues under the general theme of "the future for interurban passenger transport". A first set of papers investigates what drives demand for interurban passenger transport and infers how it may evolve in the future. The remaining papers investigate transport policy issues that emerge as key challenges from the long-run view on demand: when to invest in high-speed rail, how to regulate to ensure efficient operation, how to assign infrastructure to different types of users (e.g. cars and trucks), what role for information provision, and how to manage environmental impacts. Closing remarks summarized insights from the discussions from an academic and policy-making perspective.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Keynote presentation

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    • How Transport Costs Shape the Spatial Pattern of Economic Activity
      By its very nature, transport is linked to trade. Trade being one of the oldest human activities, the transport of commodities is, therefore, a fundamental ingredient of any society. People get involved in trade because they want to consume goods that are not produced within reach. The Silk Road provides evidence that shipping high-valued goods over long distances has been undertaken because of this very precise reason. But why is it that not all goods are produced everywhere? The reason is that regions are specialized in the production of certain products. The first explanation for specialisation that comes to mind is that nature supplies specific environments needed to produce particular goods. According to Diamond (1997), spatial differences in edible plants, with abundant nutrients, and wild animals, capable of being domesticated to help man in his agricultural and transport activities, explain why only a few regions have become independent centres of food production. Though relevant for explaining the emergence of civilization in a few areas, we must go further to understand why, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, interregional and international trade has grown so rapidly.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Theme I: Trends and Developments in Interurban Travel Demand

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    • The Prospects for Inter-Urban Travel Demand
      Mobility has increased enormously since the early days of the industrial era. Successive industrial revolutions have brought new, faster and relatively less expensive opportunities for both passengers and goods. If a contemporary of James Watt (1736-1819) or George Stephenson (1781-1848) were to return to Britain today, or to anywhere else in Europe, he would doubtless be astonished by the incredible mobility that is such an integral part of our activity schedules. His greatest surprise would not be at the number of our daily journeys (between three and four), or even the intensity – one might say the feverish pace – of our activity. Those features already existed in Europe’s major capitals, and Paris traffic jams have been famous for centuries!
    • International Air Passenger Transport in the Future
      World stock markets fell further in mid-June 2009, when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) both announced that the recovery from the current economic malaise would be longer rather than shorter. The World Bank stated that the world economy would contract 2.9%, compared with a previous forecast of a 1.7% decline. The Bank appears to be more pessimistic than the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is forecasting a global contraction of only 1.3% this year and growth of 2.4% in 2010. Furthermore, the World Bank cut its forecast for the US this year, calling for a 3% drop in the world’s largest economy, after predicting a 2.4% contraction in March. Japan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is predicted to shrink by 6.8%, more than the previous prediction of a 5.3% decline. The Euro area’s economy may shrink 4.5%, compared with the previous estimate of a 2.7% contraction. Global trade may drop by 9.7%, compared with a March forecast of a 6.1% decline.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Theme II: Adapting the Intermodal Network to the Passenger Market: Long-term Planning and Assessment

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    • When to Invest in High-Speed Rail Links and Networks ?
      Definitions of high-speed rail (HSR) differ, but a common one is rail systems which are designed for a maximum speed in excess of 250 kph (UIC, 2008). These speeds invariably involve the construction of new track, although trains used on them can also use existing tracks at reduced speeds.
    • The High-Speed Inter-City Transport System in Japan
      With the advent of Shinkansen in 1964, a unique inter-city transport network emerged, in which high-speed railway and air transport developed simultaneously in Japan, giving rise to modal choice between them based on price and speed.
    • Interurban Passenger Transport
      The future of interurban public transport will be significantly affected by public sector decisions concerning investment in infrastructure, particularly the construction of new high-speed rail lines in medium-distance corridors where cars, buses, airplanes and conventional trains are the competing modes of transport. The distribution of traffic between the alternative modes of transport depends on the generalized prices, which fundamentally consist of costs, time and government’s pricing decisions. High-speed rail investment, financed by national governments and supranational institutions such as the European Union (EU), has drastically changed the previous equilibrium in the affected corridors. This paper discusses the economic rationale for allocating public money to the construction of highspeed rail infrastructure and how the present institutional design affects the selection of projects by national and regional governments, with deep long-term effects in these corridors and beyond.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Theme III: Competition and Regulation of Interurban Travel: Towards New Regulatory Frameworks?

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    • Competition or Co-Operation in Public Transport
      Competition or Co-Operation in Public TransportTransport, and particularly public transport, is a regular subject for academic and policy analyses. Here the focus is generally not so much on the positive results of transport innovation (for example, innovations in bus transport and its dynamic development), but more on the problems caused by that innovation - for example, subways and high-speed trains - and the ensuing social strains.
    • Lessons from the US Transport Deregulation Experience for Privatization
      Travellers throughout the world are generally dissatisfied with their country’s transportation system because of the significant highway congestion, air travel delays, unreliable public transit service, and so on, which they are forced to endure. Public officials have sought to address such problems by increasing government spending on transportation; but it has become quite clear that most, if not all, countries cannot spend their way out of their transportation problems.
    • Long-Distance Bus Services in Europe: Concessions or Free Market?
      Long-distance coach services are not the most glamorous part of Europe’s long distance passenger transport system. High-speed rail or airlines attract much more political and media attention. Rail and air are much more visible and require much more (public) investment in highly visible infrastructures. Coaches on the contrary disappear in general traffic and do not require public investments, except perhaps in suitable coach stations at attractive places in urban centres. Yet, longdistance "express" coaches cater for a substantial part of the mobility of Europe’s less-wealthy citizens, at least in those countries that have appropriately (de)regulated this branch of activity.
    • Long-Distance Passenger Rail Services in Europe
      This paper focuses on classifying market access for long-distance passenger rail services in Europe into three main models and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each of these models. The "Tendered Concessions" model aims to introduce competition for the market by which operators are selected in a tendering procedure. The "Monopolistic Network Operator" model aims to sustain network effects by granting a concession to one operator. The "Open Market" model enhances operators’ entrepreneurship by providing opportunities to plan services based on open access to the network. We present the strengths and opportunities, risks and threats without favouring any one model. Classifying the many design options and their different impacts will help to structure the ongoing policy discussion. The paper also gives an overview of the organisation of long-distance passenger railway markets in selected European countries, and discusses the development of Germany’s long-distance rail passenger services in particular.
    • Competition for Long-Distance Passenger Rail Services
      Railways were initially envisaged as open access facilities with head-on competition between service providers (Lardner, 1850). However, concerns about safety quickly resulted in railways being largely developed as vertically integrated monopolies at a route level but with significant competition between these route-based companies. Over time, competition from other modes reduced the scope for internal competition and led to the rationalisation of duplicated routes and the merger of railway companies. In most countries, long distance passenger rail services1 became a state-owned monopoly but in recent years there has been renewed interest in competitive provision (see, for example, Gomez-Ibanez and de Rus, 2006).
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Theme IV:Transport System Interactions and Innovation

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    • When Should we Provide Separate Auto and Truck Roadways?
      The concept of the general purpose (GP) lane has dominated modern highway thinking and practice in OECD countries, especially for limited-access highways such as inter-city motorways and urban expressways, whether tolled or non-tolled. This paper raises the question of whether, in some circumstances, specialized lanes for light vehicles (cars, vans and pickup trucks) and heavy vehicles (generally more than two axles) might be cost-effective.
    • Dedicated Lanes, Tolls and its Technology
      The merits of separating cars and trucks have long been debated. Potential advantages include smoother traffic flows, lower accident rates, improved air quality and reduced maintenance and road infrastructure costs. Large trucks are often banned from urban roads and restricted to certain lanes on many highways but there are no dedicated truck facilities. However, truck-only lanes and truck tollways are now being actively studied. Tolls on cars and trucks are also becoming increasingly common and could be used to distribute car and truck traffic over road networks more efficiently.
    • The Informed and Oriented Transport System User
      The German Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs has set up a vision which shall improve the situation of the transport system user (in Germany) with respect to more and better transport system information and services, less stress, improved availability and increased safety. In order to make use of all resources of telematics applications an intensive co-ordination with the Ministry of Economics and Technology (transport research programme) was undertaken and the project "the informed and oriented transport system user" was launched to improve the business cases for information services.
    • Potential Economic Impacts of Technological and Organizational Innovations in Intermodal Access to Major Passenger Terminals
      This report deals with the potential economic impacts of innovations such as smart ticketing and instantaneous access to rail and modal connection information schedules. First, the qualitative role of TOIs (technological and organizational innovations) is explored within the framework of intermodality. Secondly, a simple, quantitative, parametric model is described. The model is then used to analyze the impact of TOIs on rail demand, accessibility and passenger welfare under the assumption of bounded rationality. Providing that the model captures the major processes in play, the results will show the potential effects of policy choices and technological innovations both on their own and in a combined form, thus enabling discussion of their relative merits and synergies. An analysis of quantitative results shows that the effect is positive, highly non-linear, and prone to cumulative effects due to far-reaching impacts related, for instance, to the economics of climate change.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Theme V: Sustainable Interurban Mobility

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    • Environmental Aspects of Inter-City Passenger Transport
      Many governments in different parts of the world are investing in high speed rail. Some of them do so thinking that it will be an important part of climate change mitigation. Intercity traffic over medium distances is particularly interesting in the environmental context as it constitutes the only transport segment where aircraft, trains, coaches and cars naturally compete for market shares.
    • The Economics of Co2 Emissions Trading for Aviation
      There has been a growing interest in the environmental impact of aviation, both in terms of noise and aircraft engine emissions. Discussions have included both mitigation measures and methods of internalisation of these environmental costs also described as the principle of polluter pays.
    • The Contribution of Strategic Environmental Assessment to Transport Policy Governance
      Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), understood as a practice that aims to incorporate the environmental dimension into strategic decisions such as policies, plans and programmes, already has a substantial tradition. According to Dalal-Clayton and Sadler, the formalization phase of this instrument began in the early 1990s, and its international dissemination can be said to have started in 2001 (Dalal-Clayton, Sadler, 2005).
    • Does Strategic Environmental Assessment Change Outcomes?
      Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is going through times of turbulence. Initially introduced to help improve environmental performance in development decision-making, and overcome the inability of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to deal with the complex decision frameworks that support development projects, it has subsequently been interpreted in multiple ways, now translating into various forms and applications.
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  • Final Session
    The final session of the Symposium was a panel discussion between Cristina Narbona Ruiz, Ambassador to the OECD, Paolo Costa, President of the Venice Port Authority, and Chris Nash, Professor at Leeds University, chaired by Francesc Robusté. The main points of the discussion are summarized below, followed by the concluding remarks of Francesc Robusté.
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