Costs and Benefits of Railway Urban Logistics: A Prospective Social Cost-Benefit Analysis

Costs and Benefits of Railway Urban Logistics: A Prospective Social Cost-Benefit Analysis

Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8292-2.ch009
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This chapter presents a general framework to assess urban rail logistics suitability via a socio-economic cost-benefit analysis, also called social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA). First, the author proposes an overview on the basic notions of SCBA starting from those of classical cost-benefit analysis (CBA) then identifies and presents the main types of costs and benefits of railway urban logistics services and the related final delivery services associated to them using low emission road vehicles to serve final customers from the railway stops. After that, the main modelling issues needed for SCBA assessment are presented. Finally, as an example of application, the author proposes to assess a scenario of deployment of a freight tramway in Paris, in a possible configuration. The results show the potential of those approaches but also show that it is important to contextualize them and inform the different users about their real capabilities.
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It is more than 40 years that urban goods transport makes the interest of researchers and practitioners (Gonzalez-Feliu, 2018c). Indeed, since Demetsky (1974) and Watson (1975), researchers and practitioners take particular attention to the generation of freight transport needs, and study freight flows in urban areas (Holguin-Veras et al., 2012; Gonzalez-Feliu, 2018b). Moreover, the notion of city logistics (Ruske, 1994; Taniguchi et al., 2001) defined as the set of actions to improve urban goods transport in an extended viewpoint taken by public or private stakeholders, aiming to reduce congestion and pollution without penalizing urban economic activities (Taniguchi, 2014; Gonzalez-Feliu, 2018c). It is why since more than 20 years, researchers and practitioners work together to propose urban logistics solutions, which are of different nature and have different effects, exploring different possibilities from theory to practice (Taniguchi et al., 2001; Macharis & Melo, 2011; Gonzalez-Feliu et al., 2014a; Taniguchi & Thompson, 2015; Gonzalez-Feliu, 2018c). From those solutions, urban consolidation is one of the main subjects in conciliating research and practice issues, and various works stated the difficulties of making such solutions operational (Allen et al., 2012; Verlinde et al., 2012; Janjevic et al., 2013; Morana et al., 2014). Multimodal urban logistics has been seen an interesting alternative solution since the beginning of the structured research on the field (Taniguchi & Thompson, 1999), but still remains mainly conceptual (Arvidsson and Browne, 2013; De Langhe, 2014, 2017; Comi & Nuzzolo, 2015; Thompson, 2015). Indeed, as highlighted by Ardvidsson and Browne (2013), most experiences of rail-road urban logistics are nowadays stopped, and to the best of our knowledge it seems that fluvial urban logistics remains marginal or little studied in literature (Lendjel & Fischer, 2014).

Railway urban logistics is appointed as difficult since traveled distances by urban freight railway services remain short (and certainly extremely lower than the minimum distance of combined transport stated by Nierat, 1997), but this idea has been reexamined with the last advances on short rail services’ research (Marinov et al., 2011). However, since the principle of urban freight railway services are a declination of urban consolidation schemes (Gonzalez-Feliu, 2013), they seem difficulty viable without a financial and organizational support at the project construction phase. This support can be made by Cost-Benefit-Analyses (CBA), already used in infrastructure development projects (DG Regio, 2008). Those analysis, and mainly those that relate monetary costs with both monetary and non-monetary benefits (called socio-economic CBA, or SCBA), are rare in urban logistics, which explicates partially the difficulty of such systems to be deployed and transferred (Gonzalez-Feliu et al., 2014b). For those reasons, it seems important to propose an analysis framework to clarify both researchers and practitioners and incite them to develop such practices (usage of SCBA in urban logistics strategic planning, particularly in railway urban logistics) in their project developments.

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