Business News of Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Source: GNA

Evaluation of High-Speed Rail Program should consider wider economic benefits - WB

A new World Bank research paper says a wider economic development benefits of high speed rail projects are significant and are worth considering in the evaluation of programs.

It suggests that this is achievable in addition to traditionally measured direct transport benefits.

According to the paper titled “High-Speed Rail, Regional Economics, and Urban Development in China”, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday, there is an emerging consensus that major transport investments may have significant impacts that are not well captured through conventional cost-benefit analysis.

It said conventional economic evaluations of major transport infrastructure investments tend to focus on the direct costs and benefits arising from travel, including time savings for travelers, cost savings for operators, and reductions in aspects like air pollution, noise and accidents.

The research paper said in China, the high-speed rail program is changing the dynamic of travel, with more people travelling by high-speed rail than flying.

It noted that the World Bank has supported both econometric studies and on-the-ground surveys that begin to identify and quantify these impacts in the context of the country’s emerging high-speed rail program.

The research paper said crucially, these benefits of larger and better-connected markets accrue to businesses and individuals even when they themselves do not travel as the flow of ideas and people accelerate.

The paper highlights this research and methodology and some of the policy implications to maximize these benefits in practice.

Based on this and other research, the Bank has begun to pilot a methodology to evaluate wider economic development benefits for several high-speed rail projects, and has found them to be significant - of the same order as direct transport benefits.

The paper is the eighth of a series of papers on transport topics produced by the World Bank in Beijing.