On the current political agenda, which is characterized by a major effort to minimize environmental transport externalities, the railway is considered an important sector for policy intervention. For example, when compared with road transportation, the railway is associated with lower levels of air pollution emissions, lower risks of fatalities, and reduced traffic congestion. However, it is also associated with noise pollution, which in turn can generate significant, negative welfare impacts on the population. Against this background, policy-makers have been adopting a wide range of instruments targeted at the reduction of rail noise. The economic efficiency of this type of policy intervention can be discussed in terms of its overall welfare impact, which in turn may be contained within a cost-benefit analysis of alternative noise-abatement policies. This paper reports a monetary valuation study of alternative rail noise-abatement policies along the Brennero railway in north-east Italy. The valuation study is based on a stated choice questionnaire undertaken in the 12 municipalities of the province of Trento that are currently exposed to excessive rail noise levels. This market valuation technique has hitherto not been applied to value rail noise damage. The valuation results indicate that: noise abatement makes sense from an economic perspective as long as its cost is not higher than €1 432 900; and construction of trackside barriers at the maximum height of 8 m is not ranked as the preferred policy instrument.
Department of Economics and School for Advanced Studies in Venice Foundation, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy,Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, 2:
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei,Group of Regional Economics, Department of Management Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico of Milano, Milan, Italy