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Transport Economics

Transport economics has been used at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to address the following issues:

  • Identification of bottlenecks and missing links in transport networks
  • Planning of international transport networks
  • Prioritization and financing of transport investment projects

The following three examples illustrate the scope of UNECE contributions to transport economics.

In the 1990s cost-benefit analysis became an increasingly important planning tool for the assessment of transport infrastructure projects in North America and Western Europe. UNECE developed a set of guidelines for applying cost-benefit analysis in countries with transition economies. This contribution, based on so-called “TINA Guidelines” developed earlier for the EU-candidate countries, is an important planning tool that can facilitate considerably the appraisal and selection of transport infrastructure projects in countries with transition economies. The 2003 UNECE guidelines were published and can be downloaded in English and in Russian.

Ideally, the cost-benefit analysis should be used to develop optimal transport networks. This is, however, not always feasible due to insufficient data and limited resources for master planning. Therefore, the UNECE work on international networks has been based on a multi-criteria approach that complements quantitative analysis of the available data with a qualitative evaluation of strategic and political concerns. This planning tool has been applied in three international infrastructure development projects: Trans-European Motorway (TEM) and Trans-European Railway (TER) projects of the UNECE as well as the joint UNECE-UNESCAP project on the development of Euro-Asian Transport Linkages.

The TEM and TER networks and the Euro-Asian linkages within the UNECE region coincide to a large extent with the pan-European transport corridors and axes identified by the European Commission.

Inland transport infrastructure in the pan-European region continues to be provided mainly by governments at prices set well below the long-run marginal cost. Therefore, an administrative process is needed to identify bottlenecks and potential investment. A recent UNECE report aims to provide a methodology for the identification of bottlenecks for further analysis that would consider a range of options to remove such bottlenecks, including investment, infrastructure pricing, regulation of access, and so on. The report can be downloaded at http://unece.org/trans/doc/2009/wp5/ECE-TRANS-205e.pdf  (English) and http://unece.org/trans/doc/2009/wp5/ECE-TRANS-205r.pdf (Russian)

For more information, consult the website of the Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics.

Relevant Documents

Cost Benefit Analysis of Transport Infrastructure Projects (Eng, Rus)

Identification of Bottlenecks, Missing links and Quality of Service in Infrastructure Networks (Eng, Rus)

Useful links

Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics (WP.5)
Euro-Asian Transport Links (EATL)