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Developing harmonised European approaches for transport costing and project assessment

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TEN out of ten for European transport

Upgrading and revamping European transport system is an exciting prospect. The Heatco project has devised a set of harmonised guidelines to make sure the effects of this massive investment into Europe's future has optimum benefits for its citizens.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Accidents, pollution, noise and congestion are all compelling reasons why unsustainable development in transport must be replaced. Its successor will be a seamless trans-European network (TEN) held together with sustainable guidelines in step with each other. So far, the existing guidelines, although going in the right direction, are fragmented and inconsistent so the European transport system resembles a completed jigsaw puzzle - together but with obvious divisions. The aim of the Heatco project was to first complete an analysis of the national assessment practice in all Member States. Seemingly straightforward to eliminate individual national frameworks and replace them with a unified approach, the Heatco project partners were aware that vested interests of stakeholders, although legitimate, may be counterproductive. To avoid conflict of interest, a cyclical approach was proposed incorporating meetings with provision for different options if the need arise. The pros and cons of multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and cost benefit analysis (CBA) were weighed against each other. The overall winner was MCA as it can take into account a much wider range of project impacts than CBA, derived from welfare economics only. The researchers also decided in favour of using local values for prices in the analysis wherever possible although EU-wide values have transparency. Recommendations by Heatco representatives were comprehensive to say the least. For every project under review, a 'Do-something' was compared with a 'Do-nothing' scenario. The value of any project was to be made using the present net value. A default evaluation period of 40 years lent the project analysis a long-term element. Advantages of a harmonised approach include transparency, time saved for decision makers and less boundaries. For commercial interests, distribution networks will be streamlined and simplified. At citizen level, reduction of accidents, traffic congestion, and noise promise a better quality of life.

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