Seminar Series: Rethinking Transport Appraisal

The Rethinking Transport Appraisal seminar series tackles the issue of transport appraisal, inviting national and international experts to UCL to debate the problems and likely solutions.

The seminar series will help to inform the work of UCL, as a lead partner in the EU INTERREG IVB SINTROPHER project which is considering the role of the transport appraisal process in funding public transport infrastructure in ‘peripheral’ urban areas.

Seminars will take place at University College London. Register for your free place below:

1st June 2015 - Critically Examining the Current Approaches to Transport Appraisal

9th July 2015 - Developing the Approaches to Transport Appraisal


Background and Context

The process of transport investment appraisal and decision-making plays a critical part in prioritising investment in transport planning, and has been progressively developed and enhanced over the last 50 years in the UK, mainland Europe and North America. The UK Department for Transport’s WebTAG framework (DfT, 2014) now incorporates very detailed appraisal guidance, and is seen by some commentators as the ‘best and most thorough and transparent’ system of appraisal in the world.

However, this approach to project appraisal, largely based on cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and a weak application of multi-criteria analysis (MCA), has also attracted a growing volume of criticism, developing from the 1970s onwards, and gaining additional impetus in the last five years – with problems experienced in the quantification of impacts, in discounting, and with a poor representation of environmental and distributional issues. The experience of the appraisal process on major public transport infrastructure projects, such as High Speed 2, has illuminated the issues and the problematic nature of the current process. For many, the use of CBA is overplayed, and the practice has been taken too far – into areas of decision making that are too complex for simplistic economic analysis.