Why some airport-rail links get built and others do not : the role of institutions, equity and financing
Author(s)Nickel, Julia, S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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The thesis seeks to provide an understanding of reasons for different outcomes of airport ground access projects. Five in-depth case studies (Hongkong, Tokyo-Narita, London- Heathrow, Chicago- O'Hare and Paris-Charles de Gaulle) and eight smaller case studies (Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai-Pudong, Bangkok, Beijing, Rome- Fiumicino, Istanbul-Atatirk and Munich- Franz Josef Strauss) are conducted. The thesis builds on existing literature that compares airport-rail links by explicitly considering the influence of the institutional environment of an airport on its ground access situation and by paying special attention to recently opened dedicated airport expresses in Asia. It is found that sustained government support and a sense of urgency for better airport access are the main motivating forces that need to be present if a dedicated airport express is to be constructed. For these reasons a number of dedicated airport express systems were constructed in Asia (Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Bangkok), where they were conceived simultaneously with the airports they serve. In cases with less focused objectives (Chicago, Paris, Chicago) lengthy planning periods have not yet led to the construction of an airport-rail link. London was the first airport-rail link in the Western world and exhibited strong government support for rail investments during a period of generally favorable conditions, which jointly led to the construction of the Heathrow Express. Five of eight dedicated systems that are studied exhibit underestimation of ridership and underestimation of delivery time. The finding replicates for Asian examples (Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, Shanghai) Flyvbjerg's (2009) observations on UK and US examples that transportation projects tend to systematically overestimate project benefits. The enduring and systematic overestimates of ridership hint at deliberate strategic misrepresentation rather than psychological optimism bias or technical error as reason for the erroneous estimates. Planners are advised to be aware of incentives for strategic misrepresentation among public and private agencies that prepare technical studies as basis for decision making. In a number of systems that have dedicated rail service to an airport and are generally considered successful, fierce competition from buses has emerged recently (Hong Kong, Tokyo, London). It is recommended to planners of airport-rail links today to consider realization through bus rapid transit on dedicated rights-of-way in addition to airport-rail links because of their lower cost, wider scope in dropoff and pick-up destinations and easier scalability of capacity in times of low demand.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 122-129).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology