Traffic, economy and systems

The research area Traffic analysis, transport economics and transport systems is closely linked to Sweden's overall transport policy objective to ensure the provision of transport for citizens and industry throughout the country that is socio-economically efficient and sustainable in the long term.

According to the Swedish Riksdag's environmental target, the transport sector shall be climate neutral by 2045. By then, the Swedish Transport Administration forecasts that rail transport will increase by approximately 50% compared to the level in 2017. By the same year, the population of Sweden is estimated at 11 million with special concentrations in metropolitan regions, which in turn demands a sustainable future transport system with high spatial and transport efficiency at little cost in terms of public health.

VTI shall carry out work to support the realisation of transport policy objectives. For research into traffic analysis, transport economics and transport systems, the task is that rail transport (railways, metros and tramways) needs to be analysed in its real environment together with other modes of transport. This is necessary in order to examine the provision of transport to society with regard to intermodal passenger and freight transport. Rail traffic is regulated and operated in a coherent infrastructure, which means that events that affect traffic locally can have knock-on effects at system level and potentially also for other modes of transport. The concepts of capacity, punctuality and robustness are central to this research area and describe the transport system's ability to offer people and goods punctual mobility and its ability to handle disruptions.

In traffic analysis, transport economics and transport systems, quantitative tools such as traffic simulation, econometrics, network and equilibrium modelling, optimisation and traffic flow analysis are developed and applied to balance partly conflicting objectives, such as the balance between high capacity utilisation and a robust system with low sensitivity to disruption. These tools are important aids in studies that focus both on long-term infrastructure planning (for example its design, incentive structure, maintenance, effect on demand for travel/freight transport, financing and market conditions) and operations (for example traffic planning and instruments for industry interaction between actors).

This area also includes the pricing of capacity and external effects (such as train noise and level crossing safety). External costs can be internalised through, for example, marginal cost-based track charges, in order to achieve full internalisation and thus an efficient allocation of societal resources. Socio-economic prioritising of measures in the form of maintenance and reinvestment can also serve as a basis for creating more reliable and attractive rail transport.

Research areas

Our research areas in traffic analysis, transport economics and transport systems:

  • Transport capacity and traffic planning
  • Traffic analysis and punctuality
  • Socio-economic analysis and impact relationships
  • Pricing and financing
  • Conditions and barriers in the transition to a sustainable transport system
  • Expertise and resource needs

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