The BCA of HSR Should the government invest in high speed rail infrastructure?
This paper deals with public investment in High Speed Rail (HSR) infrastructure and tries to understand the economic rationale for allocating public money to the construction of new HSR lines. The exam of data on costs and demand shows that the case for investing in HSR requires several conditions to be met: an ex ante high volume of traffic in the corridor where the new line is built, significant time savings, high average willingness to pay of potential users, the release of capacity in the conventional rail network and airports. On the contrary, net environmental benefits seem to be insignificant as to influence the social desirability of HSR investment. This paper discusses, within a cost-benefit analysis framework, under which conditions the expected benefits could justify the investment in HSR projects.
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