A Model Way to Run Transport Systems

The EU-funded HIGH-TOOL project has created a policy assessment modelling tool to help decision makers implement more sustainable transport options.

transport systems
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The EU’s prosperity, both internally and as a participant in the global marketplace, depends to a large degree on integrated transportation systems. As well as efficiently moving goods and people, keeping transportation options sustainable also necessitates reducing emissions, lessening dependency on oil and minimising congestion.

Through the creation of an open source, high-level strategic assessment model, the EU funded HIGH-TOOL project sought to help EU policymakers pursue sustainable transport options. The model can be applied for the strategic social, environmental and economic impact of transport policy options and also supports the identification of policy options for further analysis through more detailed assessment instruments.

Ensuring quality for the model

In order to ensure the active engagement of users, the tool was developed incrementally and divided into three stages. Firstly, an Excel prototype was developed based on models such as EXPEDITE, SUMMA and TRANSVISIONS. It allowed the project team to receive feedback from users, as well as sensitising them to the aims, approaches and uses of the tool. Secondly, the team created the pre-final iteration which expanded the scope of transport policies explored, was Java-based and ran at the NUTS-2 regional level. Lastly, the final version was unveiled after comprehensive testing and validation.

Three main components make up the final HIGH-TOOL model itself. The framework for the modelling comes in the form of seven thematic Core Modules which are those about; Demography (DEM), Economy & Resources (ECR), Passenger Demand (PAD), Freight Demand (FRD), Vehicle Stock (VES), Environment (ENV) and Safety (SAF). To reduce computational load these modules interact sequentially, each using previous module results as inputs to the next module in the sequence. Data exchange between the modules is supported by the Data Stock which also facilitates the input and output process. The web-based User Interface allows users to apply the model by selecting transport policies and also retrieve the assessment results. Policy selections can be made as a single pre-defined Transport Policy Measure, combinations of pre-defined Transport Policy Measures or as a customised policy package of policy variables. Users can also add date ranges and geographical information (across Europe) to these variables.

As well as involving future users in the development of the model, quality assurance also came from a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of experts, representing both model users and developers. The model will be complemented by provision of a User Training Course alongside an accessible User Guide.

Ensuring the value of assessments

The model is intended as a ‘pre-selection tool’ of policy options. Those can be further investigated using more meticulous models such as TRANSTOOLS and TREMOVE.

To reinforce the value and efficacy of HIGH-TOOL, the output indicators were informed by both the EU’s ‘White Paper on Transport’ (2011) as well as its ‘Roadmap for Moving to a Low-carbon Economy in 2050’. Additionally, the model was designed to be consistent with the ‘EU 2013 Energy, Transport and GHG Emissions Trends to 2050, Reference Scenario’ and the European Commission’s ‘Impact Assessment Guidelines’. It is also closely aligned with the European Transport Policy Information System (ETISplus).

In June 2016, the European Commission received the final version of the HIGH-TOOL model.