Stimulating the Economy by Means of (freight) Transport Policy: An Uncertain Road?

Stimulating the Economy by Means of (freight) Transport Policy: An Uncertain Road?


P M Wortelboer van Donselaar, G H M van der Linde, AVV, Ministry of Transport, NL


The Dutch Ministry of Transport studies the relationship between freight and economic growth. The objective of our paper is to give an overview of research conclusions from (inter)national literature, and to link this with policy concepts.


In past years the Dutch Ministry of Transport has given a lot of attention to approach policy issues from an economic viewpoint. This holds of course for major infrastructural projects like Maasvlakte II, for which a social cost benefit is mandatory (though not legally required). In policy documents published in 2004 by the Ministry of Transport and others, the connection between transport and economic development has come more to the foreground as key concern in national policy efforts. This also goes for freight transport policy: key question here is how freight transport can influence economic productivity? Or can better alternatives be found to stimulate the economy? And how does economic growth influence the transport sector itself?

The theme of the relationship between (freight) transport and the economy has been covered in various publications throughout the years. In particular the Sactra report ?Transport and the economy? (1999) and the CEMT report ?Transport and economic development? (2001) provide an overview of transport research in this field. But still, they provide no decisive conclusion as on how the relationship can be estimated.

The objective of our paper is:
§ To give an overview of the research conclusions from (inter)national literature for freight transport specifically;

§ To discuss the meaning of accessibility of locations and networks, the relationship between freight transport and the economy in situations of economic growth and economic stagnation from a policy perspective;

§ To look at the concept of generalized freight transport costs as the ?linking pin? between the freight transport sector and economic productivity;

§ To verify how these economic research concepts are incorporated in recent Dutch transport policy papers;

§ To come up with ideas on how to (further) integrate the ideas of economic efficiency into freight policy;

§ Finally, to put attention on how to cope from a policy point of view with the uncertainties in economic theory and to discuss in which situations transport policy measures can be efficient to improve economic productivity.


Association for European Transport