Both the European Commission and the Member States have an interest in the effective assessment of the impacts of large infrastructure projects in the sectors of transport and energy. The ex-ante appraisal has been the object of research and application studies. Methodologies for ex-post evaluation are less explored.
EVA TREN project aimed at improving the ex-ante appraisal practices for the assessment of large Energy and Transport infrastructures projects through the ex-post analysis of several case studies. Furthermore the project also set out to develop guidelines for ex-post evaluation.
EVA TREN project aimed at improving the ex-ante appraisal practices for the assessment of large Energy and Transport infrastructures projects through the ex-post analysis of several case studies.
Specific objectives were:
- the development of a better understanding of reasons that are critical in the successful implementation of transport and energy schemes;
- to identify and categorise possible evaluation pitfalls and to select good practices to reduce their occurrence and mitigate associated risks;
- improving the assessment methodologies for the ex-ante evaluation.
The project method and work programme were based on two pillars:
- Competent desk work to review approaches and experience in prioritising and monitoring the implementation of large infrastructure projects at both member states and international agencies in Europe and outside.
- A systematic, in-depth comparison of ex-ante and ex-post appraisals of 11 case studies concerning large TEN infrastructure projects in the energy and transport sector. These have been selected both according to their dimension relevance and to their work advancement stage.
The deep analysis and re-examination of the case studies allowed both to pinpoint the most common pitfalls and to suggest possible solutions.
The question that the EVA TREN project answered is extremely relevant and regards the effectiveness of the current assessment tools and practices.
The final output of the project was twofold.
On the one side, the comparison between results of ex-ante and ex-post analyses for different case studies allowed to identify several possible improvements of the traditional ex-ante assessment procedures, in order to provide more reliable evaluations of infrastructural projects, adopting methodologies currently not universally applied.
On the other side, an assessment procedure was defined, taking into account the whole project life, from initial appraisal to ex-post evaluation. This second result provided more details on almost neglected aspects of economic evaluation.
The main findings of the project are as follows:
1) Critical aspects
The main findings concerning the analysis of the ex-post reassessment of eleven projects in the transport and energy fields are as follows:
- Projects had contemporarily a supranational, a national, and a local dimension, and each of them corresponded to different stakeholders and different objectives. Furthermore, project objectives tend to change over time, when different stakeholders were involved. Conflicting objectives, together with the need for project redesign due to modified objectives, negatively affect the projects costs.
- Despite the supranational dimension the decision-making processes remain strongly country-specific. Projects belonging contemporarily to more than one country followed different paths and were assessed using diverse methodologies.
- Projects dependency proved to be very relevant, as all projects belongs to networks. Despite this, project dependency-related issues were never examined according to sensitivity analyses and/or scenario analyses to consider the potential impacts of other projects being delayed or not implemented at all. Project accessibility revealed to be a crucial point too, which may strongly influence the project's performance, while interoperability especially emerged as a key issue for rail projects.
- The methodologies used to develop demand forecasts as well as their level of robustness against actual figures vary widely among the projects. Regarding transport projects, demand was overestimated for almost all projects within the sample and was particularly relevant for the railway cases. The main drivers for demand overestimation were short