Guidelines Integral Business Case Light Rail (LIBRA) - Methodology and Applications in the Netherlands

Guidelines Integral Business Case Light Rail (LIBRA) - Methodology and Applications in the Netherlands


B Scholten, R Veldhuizen van Zanten, ECORYS Nederland BV; P Scheffer, ProRail, NL



Guidelines Integral Business case light Rail (LIBRA) ? methodology and applications in the Netherlands -

In many evaluation projects, the process is not fully thought through before the project starts. This means that unexpected events may lead to delays, or to a change in position in one of more participants. Questions like: are all relevant stakeholders participating in the project? Are the objectives clear to all participants and do they agree with them? Which stakeholders are likely to oppose the project? In the Dutch society, where a lot of decisions are based on consensus between stakeholders, the LIBRA tool is designed to help manage such processes.

Originally, LIBRA has been designed as a tool specifically for light rail projects. The reason for this is the lack of implementation of light rail projects in the Netherlands, although many initiatives have seen the light in the last fifteen years. Several studies point out that, in order to counter this lack of progress, improvements need to be made in the project approach. A clear project definition and vision on the objectives of a project are often missing or poorly defined.

However, many light rail projects in other countries appear to be successful. Best practices from Karlsruhe, Saarbrücken, Strasbourg, Nantes and Orléans are often mentioned. In these cities, light rail has been a strong catalyst for spatial and economic development. This sug-gests that light rail projects should be considered from a broader perspective: an integral ap-proach towards mobility, spatial development, socio-economic development and long-term strategic goals.

Based on these considerations, the Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail commissioned a study to develop such an integral approach. ECORYS Transport has? in cooperation with ProRail and rail operators ? carried out this study and developed an Integral Business Case: LIBRA.

LIBRA: iterative process from initiative to implementation

The main goal of LIBRA is to make a project to be successful as it can be. The environment of a project is very complex with many stakeholders. So the project definition is the central part of LIBRA. Several times during the process there needs to be a check if the project defi-nition matches the goals of the relevant stakeholders. So if the project is placed in a broader context, support will be generated. It is possible to combine more political goals than only mobility.

In order to select realistic alternatives, it is important to assess the risks involved at an early stage of the project initiative. Often there are contrasting interest from stakeholders bringing considerable risks to the project. However, the risk assessment is only one part of the cycle. Other important aspects are e.g. problem analysis and definition of policy goals, project definition and project appraisal. The LIBRA methodology has summarised all important issues in six steps, which form an iterative process (see picture).

(picture to be entered with iterative process: Initiative, 1. Problem analysis and policy goals, 2. Project definition and project alterantives, 3. Actor analysis and inventory of interests, 4. Risk analysis, 5. Appraisal project alternatives, 6. Inventory optimalisation of project alternatives)

For each process step, a product has been defined. LIBRA offers tools for these products. These tools differ from simple checklists to complete manuals on appraisal techniques. In the following table these tools are listed:

Step 1 Checklist policy goals
Step 2 Indicative scheme for feasibility different Public Transport techniques
Step 3 Checklist actors and evaluation of their interest
Step 4 Checklist risks and measures to reduce risks
Step 5 Description and manual of appraisal techniques
Step 6 Schemes for optimalisation options

General Economic values and guidelines on actions to be taken

The LIBRA process consists of different iterations. At the beginning of the (light rail) project, the alternatives and risks are being scored using ?plusses and minuses?. During the process different alternatives appear to be not feasible. The appraisal criteria are being made into measurable criteria. If possible the effects are monetarised.

Integral Business Case

The term Business Case for infrastructure projects often refers to the business economic analysis for the operator. In other words: the costs and benefits for the operator. In LIBRA the term Business Case refers to all actors. During the process to realistic alternatives, effects for the regional authority, municipalities, operators, businesses etc. are being assessed. The ef-fects are not purely transport related; also benefits on spatial development and long term stra-tegic planning are taken into account.

First of all an overview of all socio-economic costs and benefits is made. Second step is to allocate costs and benefits to different actors in order to know which actors benefit and which actors ?suffer?. This provides an indication of the support for different alternatives and also provides information on how to improve certain alternatives. The allocation of cost and bene-fits to actors also offers possibilities to consider public private partnerships (PPP).

Applications and benefits

LIBRA is currently applied successfully in several projects in the Netherlands: RegioRail KAN (the area of Arnhem-Nijmegen in the east), Agglolijn Twente (east of the country in-cluding the city of Enschede) and Rijn Gouwe line (the line between the cities of Gouda and Leiden in the west). For the Agglolijn Twente, LIBRA has already proved its benefits especially in structuring the process and an early recognition of the importance of spatial development.

LIBRA is a ?living? methodology being influenced by future developments. ProRail has an-nounced an updated version with the latest insights gained from those and other projects. Other improvements will most probably be found in the area of the indirect benefits of light rail and in the financing options in particular PPP.


Association for European Transport