How to make a case for spending big bucks to build rail transport?  “Social inclusion” are not just nice words in a policy paper.

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By Ian Brown in the Eno Transportation Weekly

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The real case was all about sustaining the growing economy of London and fostering social inclusion. There were many suggestions around the area of creating jobs more spread across the city but economists made a strong case based on London’s key export – finance and business services. This led to an important city concept where the most efficient way of conducting such business is in one concentrated location. This is now referred to as “the agglomeration effect”.

The other key component not reflected in traditional transport business cases is social inclusion. It was important to find a way of expressing this in a simple way rather than just saying that it is an important policy issue. This was expressed in economic terms by looking at the economic case. The agglomeration effect can only work with sustainable high volume transport (Hong Kong style), requiring a massive increase in capacity over the legacy system. However, for example, for every job in the financial and business services sector there are 4 support jobs (IT, maintenance, cleaning etc). These jobs do not pay as well, but the city cannot function without them.

The agglomeration effect formed the business case for the massive Crossrail project, but social inclusion was also a major factor, particularly in justifying upgrades of radial main line railway routes and the completely new Overground network with its orbital line now completed right round London. This addressed the need to provide a viable alternative to the car and importantly provided alternative non-city-center routings for many cross-city journeys. Both Moscow and Paris have adopted a similar approach.