Applied Research Programme in High Volume Transport Theme One – State of Knowledge Paper

Busy junction in an urban environment

Cardno IT Transport, in association with a number of universities, has been contracted to carry out a state of knowledge research study on Long Distance Road and Rail Transport in Low-Income Countries (LICs) in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The High Volume Transport (HVT) Applied Research Programme is a five year research programme funded by the Department for International Development UK (DFID) and implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd, designed to strengthen the evidence base that will support increased access to transport services, more affordable trade routes, and safer, low carbon transport in low income countries. The programme consists of two parts. Part One will involve a review of the literature and evidence available and deliver a series of state-of-knowledge papers on the four research themes; Long Distance Road and Rail Transport; Low Carbon Transport; Urban Transport; and Gender, Inclusion, and Vulnerable Groups (including Road Safety). Part One will confirm the focus and scope of the research that will be used to identify future primary research that may be undertaken in Part Two. A research plan will be prepared based on the outcomes and findings of Part One.

Cardno’s in-house transport technical experts, Cardno IT Transport, have been contracted by the HVT Project Management Unit within implementors IMC, to conduct the intial Part 1 study for HVT Theme One – Long Distance Road and Rail Transport. In order to get a full understanding of the breadth of issues covered under the scope of this theme, Cardno ITT have partnered with transport academics at the University of Birmingham (UK), University of Leeds (UK), and University of Nottingham (UK), along with academics and engineering consultants based in Bangladesh and Tanzania.

Group photo of the attendees of a workshop

Limited research specific to strategic road and rail transport networks in LICs exists, despite large investments by national governments, donors and development banks in transport infrastructure programmes. Many African and Asian countries apply standards and specifications for road and rail infrastructure that are out of date and do not take account of advances in knowledge and evidence leading to costly over, or under-design. Climate change is already threatening vital infrastructure. Meeting the increasing demand for transport infrastructure investment comes with an increasing need to invest in asset maintenance. The Long Distance Road and Rail Transport Theme therefore considers the increasing volume of transport infrastructure assets and maintenance costs, and examines maintenance systems.

To date, the Cardno team have carried out thorough literature reviews on the secondary literature available on this topic, presented their findings to stakeholders across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and ultimately produced a list of recommended research areas and topics that need to be procured in Part 2 of the programme. The stakeholder engagement activities have taken form of workshops held in Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Kenya, and an online survey sent to a large number of national governing organisations and research institutions.

Using the feedback from these engagement activities, Cardno have written a Final Report that recommends the following priority research areas for the HVT programme to focus on:

  • affordable high-volume roads that are low maintenance and resilient to climate change
  • more effective expenditure on roads by maximising local participation
  • new affordable and sustainable approaches to increase railway network capacity
  • new approaches to improve the commercial viability of railway networks
  • improving rail network performance to deliver competitive services
  • improving transit transport along corridors and across borders
  • stakeholder governance structures for smart transport corridors
  • more equitable distribution of the economic and social benefits of transport corridor development.

In line with these priority research areas, Cardno are also writing journal papers which will be published in the Sustainability Journal.

We invite you to join the High Volume Transport online community, so you can be first to learn about transport research grant funding opportunities, transport research sector updates, and research products published by High Volume Transport.

Join the High Volume Transport community