Highway Research Record

Economic Evaluation of Road Improvement Measures at Manned Railway Level Crossings

Date of Start: July 2004
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (R, C)

Scope and Objective
(i) To study the operation of the traffic conditions at manned railway level crossings on a selected stretch of a railway line.
(ii) To estimate the delay to road traffic and hence the economic loss in terms of money value of travel time lost at selected      crossings.
(iii) To estimate the increase in VOC (Vehicle operating cost) due to stopping and starting of engines, idle running of engines,      etc. of road vehicles at the manned level crossings.
(iv) To estimate the cost of short-term and long-term road improvement measures at selected level crossings.
(v) To determine the economic viability of such short and log-term improvement measures by comparing the cost and benefits      of such projects.

The methodology of approach towards achieving the objective of the present study can be broadly classified into two parts: methodology of data collection, and methodology of analysis. The first and foremost thing is to identify the level crossings for the study on the selected stretch of railway line. Then, to know the operational details of the level crossing and frequency of service. Based on the above steps, data has to be collected on composition and volume of traffic. Value of time details such as trip purpose, average occupancy of vehicles, and income of travelers has to be collected. To calculate the idle fuel consumption total closure time of gates has to be known. Extra fuel consumed due to starting and stopping of vehicles has also to be known. After obtaining all these details, the data have to be processed. The second part is to analyze the processed data to obtain the results. Firstly, short term and long-term measures are considered and designed. Here, improvements involving betterment of road geometry at the level crossing, provision of wider gates if required, and provision of better road traffic regulation and control devices are termed as short-term improvement measures. Construction of a grade separation facility is what is meant here as long-term improvement measures. The economic viability of each of these measures are evaluated considering the monetary benefits due to savings in fuel and travel time. Then, the best alternative is chosen based on the various factors considered. Finally, warrants are developed relating the volume of traffic and frequency of train movements for provision of grade separation at manned railway level crossings.

Findings and Conclusions
(i) The economic evaluation of the project involving long-term improvement measure, namely, construction of a Road Over      Bridge (ROB) and pedestrian subway replacing the existing manned railway level crossing(LC No.29), done based on      estimation of money value of travel-time savings using wage-rate approach, has resulted in an IRR of 22.59%. The      economic evaluation of the same project, done based on estimation of money value of travel-time savings using GDP (the      UN procedure) has however, resulted in an IRR of only 15.12%.

(ii) The economic evaluation of the project involving short-term improvement measures, namely, provision of additional gate      and improvement in road geometry at the existing manned railway level crossing (LC No.26), done by comparing the cost      with the benefits of money value of travel-time savings, worked out based on wage-rate approach has resulted in an IRR of      14.09%.

(iii) The reason for the significant difference in the IRR values worked out based on wage-rate approach and the UN procedure       in the case of long-term improvement is as follows. The study level crossing is located in the suburban area of Chennai city      (one of the four major metropolitan cities of India) and the general economic background of the people living in the locality      will be relatively better. Hence, the mean wage-rate and hence the money value of travel-time of the users of the level      crossing is bound to be high. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), on the other hand, is a national average value arrived at      as an average over the entire population (urban and rural) of the country. Hence, the money value of travel-time worked      out based on GDP, is bound to be low. The said aspects, have, thus, resulted in a high IRR when based on wage-rate      approach and low value when based on GDP.