The case for internalising externalities in a sustainable rail asset base

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Langdon, Mark ; Gillott, Mark C. ; Rodrigues, Lucélia Taranto ; Parry, Tony (2016)

Although the concept of sustainability and Sustainable development has tended to be mostly associated with the management of natural resources and the consequent environmental impact, the most accepted definition draws together its social, economic and environmental dimensions. The rail industry, as provider of a low carbon transport system, is well placed to have a significant role to play in promoting an environmental, economic and social balance that can be sustained and afforded for the foreseeable future.\ud \ud The paper suggests that a more comprehensive perspective on the scope of a sustainable intervention in rail infrastructure assets is needed, arguing that the necessary whole life evaluation process should include an additional positive externality: the uplift in knowledge, skill and expertise that comes about as a result of participation in projects and programmes. The inclusion of this benefit would provide a more accurate representation of value to support investment decision making and strengthen the case for a broader funding base. And that the demonstration of the correlation between participation in projects and programmes and the consequent uplift in skill, knowledge and expertise could be used to shift the emphasis in rail project planning.
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