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Sustainability in Railway Investments, a Study of Early-Phase Analyses and Perceptions

Andreas Økland (), Nils O. E. Olsson () and Marte Venstad ()
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Andreas Økland: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Nils O. E. Olsson: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Marte Venstad: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 2, 1-21

Abstract: This article presents a study of sustainability in railway investment projects. The purpose of the study was to analyse how sustainability is interpreted and evaluated in the early phases of major public investment projects. These phases are characterized by potentially very influential decisions being made prior to when precise, detailed knowledge is available. The research uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative information sources and three datasets; 12 interviews, document analyses for 10 railway projects, and a case study. The qualitative data are from semi-structured interviews, while the quantitative data are based on structured document review of planning documents from ten Norwegian railway projects. In addition, a detailed case study of a major rail infrastructure project has been performed. The findings show that several aspects of sustainability are evaluated in the early phase of investment projects, but there are no explicit requirements to do an overall analysis of sustainability. Environmental aspects of sustainability are predominant in the respondents’ interpretation of the concept. Still, the structure and requirements of the early phases in the national project model ensures that the economic dimension of sustainability has the most influence in decisions regarding which project concepts that receive financing for further development.

Keywords: project management; railway infrastructure; project evaluation; sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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