Charging the polluters: a pricing model for road and railway noise

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Henrik Andersson
Mikael Ögren

This study outlines a method to estimate the short run marginal cost (SRMC) for road and railway noise. It is based on standardized calculation methods for total noise levels and monetary cost estimates from well established evaluation methods. Here official calculation methods and monetary values are used for Sweden, but the estimation method for the SRMC outlined can be directly applied using other standardized noise calculation methods and monetary values. This implies that the current knowledge regarding the calculation of total noise levels and the evaluation of the social cost of noise can be extended to estimate the marginal effect as well. This is an important finding since it enables policy makers to price noise externalities in an appropriate way. Several sensitivity tests run for the SRMC show that: (i) increasing the total traffic on the infrastructure has only a minor influence, (ii) estimates are quite sensitive to the number of exposed individuals, and (iii) to the monetary values used. Hence, benefits transfer, i.e. using monetary values elicited based on road noise for railway noise, should be done with caution or not at all. Results also show that the use of quiet technology can have a significant effect on the SRMC. The fact that this model is able to differentiate not only modes of transport, but also vehicles and even technologies is an important finding. It is essential that the noise charges give the operators the right incentives to choose their optimal allocation.

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