Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Chris Nash

Transport economics and policy analysis is a field which has seen major advances in methodology in recent decades, covering issues such as estimating cost functions, modelling of demand, dealing with externalities, examining industry ownership and structure, pricing and investment decisions and measuring economic impacts. This Handbook contains reviews of all these methods, with an emphasis on practical applications, commissioned from an international cast of experts in the field.

Chapter 7: Congestion and scarcity in scheduled transport modes

Jan-Eric Nilsson

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, research methods in the environment, transport, research methods, research methods in economics, research methods in the environment, urban and regional studies, research methods in urban and regional studies, transport


Congestion is a familiar concept within the road sector, first and foremost since it provides a very hands-on and frequent experience for many drivers. Analytically, congestion is an external effect within the collective of drivers in so far as the marginal driver causes extra time for those already in the system without necessarily taking this into account. This is the basis for a proactive policy towards congestion, designed in order to ascertain an optimal mix of pricing and investment principles to handle the imbalance between supply of and demand for roads. The meaning of congestion, in modes where scheduling is a prerequisite for operations, differs from the definition of congestion in the road sector. There are furthermore both similarities and differences in the way in which congestion manifests itself when comparing different scheduled modes. In the railway sector the presence of high demand means that there are not tracks available to cater for the wishes of all railway operators, or that some must adjust their demand for access in order to cater for the demand from one or more other operators. As a consequence, services may not commence without operators having been allocated a slot long before a train is about to leave. We will characterise this as a scarcity problem which is solved by constructing a timetable that can be advertised to travellers well beforehand.

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