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Evaluating the external costs of trailer transport: a comparison of sea and road

Journal article
Authors Inge Vierth
Victor Sowa
Kevin Cullinane
Published in Maritime Economics & Logistics
Volume 21
Issue 1
Pages 61-78
ISSN 1479-2931
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Business Administration
Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Pages 61-78
Language en
Keywords Freight transport, environment, CBA, emissions, Ro-Ro, ROPAX.
Subject categories Transport Systems and Logistics, Business Administration, Economics, Economics and Business


The objective of this study is to deduce the comparative level of external costs per transported trailer within a context where an existing freight transport chain is replaced by one that includes greater use of shipping. Using both Sweden’s national guidelines for cost–benefit analysis (ASEK) and the European guidelines (Ricardo), the external costs of two alternative options are evaluated. The external costs for a road and shipping option are estimated to be lower than for the direct shipping option under Swedish guidelines, but higher under the European guidelines. However, the results favour the road and shipping option in preference to the direct shipping option under both Swedish and European guidelines when internalizing taxes and fees are accounted for. This is the case even where the shipping mode is compliant with the most stringent environmental regulations. The paper concludes that the evaluation system employed can have a fundamental impact on the outcome of a CBA and that the Swedish guidelines (ASEK) could by improved by incorporating specific values for air pollution from ships (particularly NOx emissions) and a system for regularly updating emission factors.

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