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Urban Infrastructure on a regional level ? Economical effects on local business identified with surveys and observations

Maik Hoemke ()

ERSA conference papers from European Regional Science Association

Abstract: Increasing expansion of transport infrastructure is taking place in more and more countries. This trend, strongly encouraged by the globalization process, is reflected in ever-shorter journey times in both national and international travel. During such developments, extensive urban-planning alterations in areas that are being provided with new transport infrastructure tend to be viewed purely in terms of macro-economic datasets. The present study is therefore intended to add a new level to research on the efficacy of new transport facilities ? namely, economical effects measured by surveys and observations. The new Lötschberg Base Tunnel in Switzerland is to be taken as an example case for the purpose. When the 34.6-km Lötschberg Base Tunnel opened for scheduled operations in December 2007, the rural communes in the Upper Valais region acquired a strong new link with the catchment area of Berne. For example, the train journey between Visp (small municipality in Upper Valais with 7.000 inhabitants) and Berne was shortened from 2 hours to less than 1 hour. In addition to the link with Berne, internal public transport connections in Upper Valais were also tremendously improved and extended. Interchange links were improved, connections were better organized, high-frequency timetables were introduced and services were substantially increased ? transport facilities that are every bit as good as an urban railway network. In the past 5 years after opening of the tunnel extensive empirical methods were established to observe economic changes in the municipality of Visp. At first there were yearly observations of the shop opening times in the municipality connected with observations of new shop openings or closures. Also a questionnaire was conducted and was sent to all shop owners in Visp. Finally the housing market was observed by photography. Every 2 years pictures were shot which shown the changes in the area of Visp, especially in the residential home sector. Additionally expert interviews were added to classify the findings of all empirical methods. The aim of the study is to demonstrate that research focusing merely on economic macro data effects in a given area, and ignoring the social aspects of new infrastructure, inevitably suffers a loss of quality. The special characteristic of the present study lies in the way in which it assesses infrastructure developments, in regions that were previously peripheral, on the basis of urban development phenomena and social phenomena.

Keywords: Mobility; mobile methods; social space; transport infrastructure (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-tre and nep-ure
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