Position Papers
Glaister, Allport, Brown and Travers
Published in
Submitted by
Peter Midgley, gTKP
Related theme(s)
Urban Mobility
All Regions

Success and failure in urban transport infrastructure projects

With large urban areas around the globe expected to experience significant growth over coming decades, it is more important than ever that the transport infrastructure underpinning them can be delivered successfully and sustainably. Yet past projects show that implementation is patchy—some projects become beacons of effective transport provision within their cities, while others become notorious examples of project failure.

KPMG International commissioned the present study to analyze the factors affecting the success of a range of international urban transport infrastructure projects, with a view to explaining why some are more (or less) successful than others.

The resulting report provides an invaluable insight into the factors that drive success. It considers six factors in particular:
• Project environment and turbulence
• Political control and sponsorship1
• Role of national government
• Effectiveness of planning
• Effectiveness of procurement and financing
• Organizing for operations

The report analyzes how these factors contribute to the success of projects by assessing their influence in 19 case studies. The studies span 13 different locations in 9 countries. They are mostly rail projects, but also include a bus transit system and a road tunnel. The research team analyzed how the factors listed above contributed to the success of the projects across three dimensions:
• Financial success
• Policy success
• Durability success

The research team was sensitive to the need to understand each city and the different social and political environments in which the projects were developed. They grouped projects according to their political context in order to assess how different environments were conducive to different types of approach. Practices that work in one place may not be so successful elsewhere.