Economic Evaluation of Urban Track Systems: Integration of Life Cycle Costs and Socio-Economic Assessment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, infrastructure - track, mode - tram/light rail, planning - environmental impact, economics - capital costs


Socio-economic Costs, Life Cycle Costs, urban track, light rail


Urban Track is an EU funded research project (2006-2010) aiming at the development and construction of modular track systems for tram, metro and light rail with a low life cycle cost and a high performance. Systems should be safe, and produce a minimum of noise and vibrations. In total, 28 different partners have worked on the development, implementation and assessment of the innovative rail technologies. To assess the Life Cycle Costs (LCC) and Socio-Economic Costs (SEC) of the newly developed systems before and after implementation, an integrated LCC-SEC methodology has been developed.

Based on European literature and discussions with partners and experts, relevant socio-economic impacts and their monetary values have been defined. For the building site noise and turnover compensation have been considered, for the detour costs of congestion, fuel, road accidents, noise, emissions, climate change and costs for the public transport company have been taken into account. The SEC-calculation tool provides a transparent overview of the socio-economic costs for a certain location or the performance of a certain system on different locations. Although the LCC-SEC calculation tool is based on monetary cost, the Socio-Economic methodology has been made suitable to incorporate qualitative and non-monetary effects, like environmental impacts, vibrations, quality of the surface or typical characteristics of the building site that have impact on the decision-making process and the desirability of the project.

The before and after studies carried out, show the importance of Socio-Economic impacts in the choice for a system. Innovative systems, fast to implement, low cost in maintenance, are often more expensive leading to a higher LCC. However, the advantages are often socio-economic (hindrance for traffic or shops, noise and vibrations, carbon). By including both types of costs in the assessment a better founded choice can be made, taking different types of short and long term impacts into account.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences Home Page: