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Assessment of unit costs (standard prices) of rail projects (CAPital EXpenditure)


Date: 13 jul 2018

Theme: Transport

Languages:   en

Bringing the people and economies of the individual Member States closer by developing a functioning, efficient and interconnected European transport system is a paramount objective of the European Union. 1 In particular, the European rail network poses huge opportunities, as rail is an environmentally friendly and efficient transport mode. Therefore, the European Commission is investing in the development of the rail network to increase the share of rail in freight and passenger transport. Nonetheless, the demand for funding exceeds the public resources available, thus it is imperative to improve the efficiency of public procurement and planning of public funds, in order to improve the efficiency in terms of impact of the available funds.

Several studies, carried out in the past, highlighted the difficulty of assessing the delivery efficiency of capital investments in rail infrastructures due to the various interacting elements involved, such as the project features, the technical complexities and the political, regulatory and natural differences that can be found across the Member States.

Aware of such difficulties, the Authors undertook a wide research about the relationship between project costs and technical features, in order to build a reliable and user-friendly tool. The main aim of such tool is to aid the various decision makers involved the infrastructure planning process, as the European Commission, Managing Authorities, Contracting Authorities, JASPERS, Infrastructure Managers, Strategic Rail Authorities, etc. in the assessment of the investment cost of rail infrastructure projects. Following extensive work, the authors developed the REGIO Rail Unit Cost Tool, based on a review of the project unit costs in the rail sector in core and comprehensive sections of the Trans-European Transport Network, and assessing factors that lead to the variation of the costs of infrastructure development. The tool provides a timely benchmark of each rail project costs compared to a large sample of projects with similar characteristics. At the same time, using the same logic, the tool can provide indications of the average cost of infrastructure with certain characteristics, so to provide support for the forecasting and planning of rail investments.

In this exercise, the Authors have been supported by an extensive network of stakeholders. These have been particularly relevant in collecting the data on projects as well as in supporting the definition of the features the REGIO Rail Unit Cost Tool had to incorporate. A dedicated Steering Group (SGUCR) of experts actively contributed to define the scope of the assignment and monitoring and directing its progress.