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Characteristics of cost overruns for Dutch transport infrastructure projects and the importance of the decision to build and project phases

Listed author(s):
  • Cantarelli, C.C.
  • Molin, E.J.E.
  • van Wee, B.
  • Flyvbjerg, B.

Using a methodology similar to that used the in the worldwide research, the cost performance of Dutch large-scale transport infrastructure projects is determined. In the Netherlands, cost overruns are as common as cost underruns but because cost overruns are larger than cost underruns projects on average have a cost overrun of 16.5%. The focus on one country further enabled to consider cost overruns during different project development phases. It turned out that in the Netherlands the majority of the cost overrun occurs in the pre-construction phase (the period between the formal decision to build and the start of construction). The frequency as well as the magnitude of pre-construction cost overrun is significantly higher than in the construction phase. The used methodology of calculating cost overruns does however not take lock-in into account. This phenomenon shows that the real decision to build was taken much earlier in the decision-making process. Since estimated costs are usually lower during these earlier stages, the cost overruns based on this real decision to build are likely to be much higher. Cost overruns presented in studies are therefore often underestimated and the problem of cost overruns is much larger than we think.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967070X1200056X
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transport Policy.

Volume (Year): 22 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 49-56

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Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:22:y:2012:i:c:p:49-56
DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2012.04.001
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  1. Chantal C Cantarelli & Bent Flyvbjerg & Bert van Wee & Eric J E Molin, 2010. "Lock-in and its influence on the project performance of large-scale transportation infrastructure projects: investigating the way in which lock-in can emerge and affect cost overruns," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 37(5), pages 792-807, September.
  2. Bent Flyvbjerg & Mette K. Skamris holm & Søren L. Buhl, 2003. "How common and how large are cost overruns in transport infrastructure projects?," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 71-88, January.
  3. Odeck, James, 2004. "Cost overruns in road construction--what are their sizes and determinants?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 43-53, January.
  4. Mackie, Peter & Preston, John, 1998. "Twenty-one sources of error and bias in transport project appraisal," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-7, January.
  5. Bert van Wee, 2007. "Large infrastructure projects: a review of the quality of demand forecasts and cost estimations," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(4), pages 611-625, July.
  6. Bert van Wee, 2007. "Large Infrastructure Projects: A Review of the Quality of Demand Forecasts and Cost Estimations," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 34(4), pages 611-625, August.
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