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Transport Economics

Transport Economics

Volterra understands the importance of considering the ways in which transport infrastructure and land availability can impact upon where growth might occur.  The company has pioneered new ways of considering the impacts of large scale transport investment on the economy.

Volterra has specific expertise in considering the benefits of transport investments where standard models do not give the full picture.  With this in mind, Volterra has frequently developed new methods of assessment and analysis which allow policymakers or investors to understand the potential impacts of investing in transport infrastructure.

Volterra pioneered the methodology for understanding and estimating Wider Economic Benefits (WEBs), particularly those due to agglomeration impacts.  Following our work for Crossrail (see case studies) WEBs were introduced  into DfT guidance which has changed the debate on transport priorities considerably in the UK.  Volterra has since evaluated the WEBs of many transport schemes in line with DfT guidance.

Continuing with the theme of pioneering new approaches where relevant, Volterra has continued to challenge the applicability of existing guidance to the concept of High Speed Rail. Traditional methods typically apply well to shorter routes and journeys, where small tweaks to services can have big local effects. Volterra has been developing new approaching to understanding how larger transport investment, specifically those that link cities which are further apart than ‘commuter’ relationships, can have transformational, step change, impacts upon economic growth in cities.




Bridget Rosewell led the case for Crossrail, developing the argument for Wider Economic Benefits, creating a methodology for valuing them and liaising with the DfT in order to gain acceptance for the methodology.  Bridget was instrumental in convincing HM Treasury that the concept is valid and important.

High speed One

Volterra undertook the analysis underpinning a post-hoc evaluation of the Economic Impact of HS1.  As well as estimating the WEBs of HS1 this study also estimated the wider regeneration impacts and potential uplifts in property prices that could be associated with HS1. This study, for London & Continental Railways, estimated the economic and regeneration benefits of High Speed One (HS1) – the link between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel and currently the only high speed rail line in the UK.  This study found that the benefits doubled if Wider Economic Benefits (WEBs) were included.  The study also considered new methods for estimating the regeneration benefits of HS1, valuing the development enabled around stations – this concluded that even if only 5% of these benefits were considered ‘additional’ to the UK then this would amount to £10bn of regeneration benefits which would more than double the estimates of conventional benefits and WEBs (together £7.6bn).

High speed Two – Eastern leg

Volterra managed a number of assignments undertook jointly with Arup Leeds.  As part of these studies Volterra estimated the wider economic benefits of different options for High Speed Rail serving Yorkshire and the East Midlands. These studies considered how the scale of benefits would differ in total magnitude and spatial distribution depending upon station location and other factors.

Northern Line Extension

Volterra estimated the Wider Economic Benefits of the Northern Line Extension in the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area.  This study estimated DfT complaint WEBs as well as various other scenarios.  The study also estimated the taxation and regeneration benefits of the NLE.  Bridget is currently working to revise this work based on new underlying assumptions in support of a planning inquiry in 2013 where it is expected that she will be a witness on Wider Economic Benefits.

Core Cities

Volterra undertook a project for the Core Cities Group which considered the transport investment needed to support growth in England’s cities.  This study reviewed the evidence around the benefits of HS2 and HSR more generally across the UK.  This study also estimated the benefits that could be associated with capacity released on existing lines.  The study considered the scale of transport investment, both local and inter-city, that would be needed across the country in order to support the challenging growth targets in England’s main cities.

Heathrow 3rd Runway

Commissioned by the 2M group of local authorities around Heathrow Airport, Volterra authored an issues report and subsequently produced a Witness Statement in support of the successful judicial review of the government’s policy support for a third runway at Heathrow.  Volterra’s analysis did a thorough review of the economic impact assessment, and specifically considered the benefit cost ratio (BCR) of the supported case, highlighted areas where significant uncertainty exists, and considered the extent to which surface access costs and travel delays were appropriately included in the Impact Assessment.

Stansted 2nd Runway

For Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Volterra provided analysis and input into the economic case for opposing the second runway at Stansted Airport.  The project involved questioning the assumptions underpinning the passenger demand forecasts, user benefits, wider economic benefits and costs of the scheme, resulting in a thorough challenge of the Cost Benefit Analysis.  Bridget Rosewell was due to be an expert witness at the Inquiry, however in May 2010 BAA withdrew plans to build the second runway.

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