LIMOBEL deals with three priority research areas that are interrelated: transport and mobility, energy and environmental issues. It is well known that, while generating many benefits, transport also causes many problems, of which congestion, accidents and environmental costs are the most important.
The project's aim is therefore to develop a fully operational modelling tool to study the impact of transport policies on the economy and on emissions in order to help the government that is facing different objectives, to make choices.
It builds upon the existing models of the 3 projects participants.
The project's objective is to produce long-term projections (up to 2030) of passenger and freight transport demand in Belgium.
This involves constructing a baseline scenario which is then compared with alternative policy scenarios for more sustainable transport. It considers packages of instruments (e.g. pricing, regulation and infrastructure measures) in the alternative policy scenarios.
The first output of LIMOBEL consists of a baseline scenario for Belgium with a time horizon of up to 2030. It will provide projections of the economic activity in Belgium and of transport demand.
Secondly, LIMOBEL will perform a cost-benefit analysis of a number of budget-neutral policy packages. The project tool computes the impact of these policies on the economic performance, transport demand, energy use, emissions, congestion, accidents and welfare (in general and of the different consumer groups). As such the modelling tool allows us to study the trade-offs which often have to be made between different government objectives.
LIMOBEL builds upon existing models of the three teams:
- The PLANET model which is developed at the FPB. This is a medium term and long term projection model for freight and passenger transport demand in Belgium meant as a policy support tool for the Federal Public Service Transport and Mobility.
- The NODUS model, a multi-modal freight network model developed at GTM.
- The environmental impact assessment model developed at VITO. This model determines the emissions of various air pollutants and greenhouse gases by different vehicle types and calculates the social costs of these emissions using the impact pathway methodology.
The aim of LIMOBEL is to link these three modelling approaches and to extend them. The main contributions of LIMOBEL are:
- To construct a model for long-term macro-economic projections at the sectoral (i.e. several economic sectors) and regional (i.e. the three Belgian regions) level, with an explicit modelling of the interaction between the economy in general and the transport sector. This implies that the assumption of an exogenous macroeconomic evolution, which is made in PLANET and many transport projection models, is dropped. Another extension with respect to PLANET is the introduction of several consumer groups such that the distributional impacts of policies can be analysed. Finally, the model will take into account the Belgian institutional context with several regions and a federal government.
- To produce a link between the extended PLANET model and NODUS, which allows a more realistic modelling of the generalized transport costs and of the impact of infrastructure measures. The network model will be extended to include passenger transport, such that the interaction between passenger and freight transport can be taken into account.
- To produce a link between the environmental impact assessment model and the two other models. The environmental model will be updated and its parameters will be adapted such that it can be used for a time horizon of up to 2030. In addition, the methodology will be extended to maritime transport.
The end product of LIMOBEL will consist of two parts: (i) a fully operational modelling tool and (ii) a set of cost-benefit analyses of alternative policy packages.
In the first phase of the LIMOBEL project the first task was the identification of the main links between the different model components. These concern the type of information that is communicated between the long-term economic model, the network model and the environmental impact assessment model. A framework was set up for the future work in LIMOBEL.
Secondly, the project determined the basic set-up of the long-term economic model. It was decided to use a conventional CGE model with a regional dimension and different household groups, and crucial aspects that should be included in the model were defined. The construction of the CGE model is currently ongoing.
Thirdly, work was undertaken to obtain an updated and more realistic network model. The result is a better insight in the components of the generalised costs for passenger and freight transport, the introduction of the line concept for rail transport and an update of the network.
Finally, the methodology for the environmental impact assessment model was developed further. This concerns a better data set for the historical fleet (distinction between trucks of different weight classes and the selection of new motor fuel and vehicle technologies). It also involved work to update and refine the emission functions, taking into account the results of COPERT IV, together with the impact of air conditioning and the impact of the voluntary agreement between the car manufacturers and the European Commission on CO2 emissions of new cars. The emission module has been validated on the basis of figures for the Flemish region. Furthermore, purchase costs for motor fuel and vehicle technologies have been determined to apply as an input in the CGE model. In addition, first runs have been performed with the technological emission model for rail traffic.