Perhaps one of the most innovative versions of the wheel’s discovery; trains and railways have for so long been a fundamental part of the transport and transportation infrastructure. Aside from transporting cargo from ports, raw materials from source, and finished products to their intended destinations, trains also double up as a reliable mode of human transportation. Especially the electric ones in developed countries like Britain, China, USA, and Japan, trains are in fact one of the fastest and most reliable commutes. However, it takes tons of resources, a gazillion brains, and lots of manpower to build a railways strip, let alone get the entire thing going on.
Since railway projects are mostly handled by governments of the respective countries or areas, it also takes a lot of deliberating between and among political leaders, stakeholders, and other interested parties to get a railway project up and running. From the effect on local communities to environmental effects, the resources available, and sustainability, the success of a railway project depends on many factors.
Here are 5 major factors affecting the success of a railway project.
1. Resources and Funding
It is true, that a major project like railway construction needs months or years of planning. It is not something a leader wakes up and breaks the ground for. However, resources, both in terms of funding and raw materials, are something that can either make or break a railway construction project. During the planning phase of it, it requires a mountain of deliberations between stakeholders and governments to see the project come to life. As a matter of fact, this is one of the projects for which you find governments (especially underdeveloped countries) seeking funds from donor organizations, trading partners, and governments from the developed world. In a nutshell, railway projects don’t come cheap, and they are one of those projects that require immense financial solidity before commencement.
The geography of a place will obviously affect the course of a railway. However, this course is often dependent on the geographical nature and features. For instance, while it may be impractical to build a railway that cuts through a mountain, it may also be too expensive to build one that goes around it to continue with its course. Geographical features have a great impact on where a railway can be constructed, how much it would cost, and how long it would take to complete the project. They affect the success of such a project.
From engineers to strategic planners, accountants, excavators, welders, and manual laborers, a railway project requires a huge set of skills. It requires a great degree of manpower from a wide range of disciplines, especially in this age of digitalization when every other country, state, and city are thinking of investing in high-speed digital train transportation. David Farrer from Drasol (https://www.drasol.com.au/) says that efficient railroads should have under-track crossings, erosion control, and stormwater culverts. The entire project’s success will depend on the availability and skill level of manpower to provide these services, not forgetting that even though labor can be imported or outsourced, the costs could go up or (rarely) go down.
To take you back a little bit, planners of railway projects weigh out a number of factors before making a unanimous decision to proceed. Some of the questions they ask themselves may include the following:
- What’s the main reason for constructing this railway line?
- Will the railway pay itself back?
- Will the revenues be enough for its maintenance?
- How will the railway make money?
In one word, sustainability affects the success of any railway project and even if it seems or looks like the best idea to construct a railway from point A to point B, the aspect of sustainability can stall its operations soon after it is constructed, within a few years of its operation… or even before it begins construction. A successful railway project has to be economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable, which brings us to the next few points.
5. Environmental Concerns
Is the project environmentally friendly depending on the type of trains that will be running on the line? What energy source will the trains be using? If the line is passing through a city or urban area, will the railway operations lead to noise, air, or land pollution? Environmental concerns can lead to the shutdown of an operational railway line and if concerns are deliberated at an early stage by the respective stakeholders, the project may as well be shoved early before its completion.Of course, there are a few other factors that may determine the failure or success of a railway construction project. Talk of its impact on society, for instance. While it may create jobs for some, it may also lead to the involuntary evacuation for others, not forgetting that compensation for such lands can be a psychological quagmire. These are some of the reasons why railway infrastructure is still wanting in many places around the globe, with many projects stalled, still pending commencement, pending completion or have entirely failed.