Swedish infrastructure policy and planning - conditions for sustainability
Sammanfattning: Sustainability has been on the agenda for decades. Yet it is not evident that the development we are witnessing can qualify as sustainable. Departing from an understanding of the adoption of sustainability as an on-going, unfinished process the thesis explores conditions for sustainability in Swedish transport infrastructure policy and planning. The study covers decision processes of three mega-projects (the Öresund Link, the Southern Link and the Arlanda Rail Link), one regional infrastructure plan and a historical view on infrastructure policy and planning from the 1950s. The study is based on 43 qualitative interviews with people involved in infrastructure policy and planning, and official documents such as infrastructure plans and transport policy bills. Based on a theoretical understanding of the linkage between infrastructure and sustainable mobility the concepts avoid, shift and improve are used to interpret the conditions for sustainability in policy and planning. The research is presented in three empirical themes: Theme I explains linkages between changes in transport infrastructure, policy, and planning practices through a transition theory perspective. This part of the study highlights how sustainability has been introduced in policy and planning in parallel to other objectives. It shows that despite demand reduction being stated as the key principle of infrastructure planning both road and rail investments keep increasing, and despite climate objectives being awarded high priority investments in transport infrastructure are not expected to lead to emission reductions. Theme II explores in more detail how conflicts between different objectives were managed in a regional planning process. Transferring road transport to rail is framed as the solution to conflicts between environmental objectives and increasing mobility, but funding restrictions limits the viability of this option. Theme III shows how the introduction of user fee funding models increases the complexity of the governance context. In the case of the Arlanda Link the funding model limited the possibilities of contributing to a shift to rail. In the case of the Öresund Link the funding model has played some part in contributing to a shift to rail, but since project economy relies on road transport revenue there is also a desire to increase road transport volumes It is concluded that there is a strong normative commitment to sustainability in policy and planning objectives, but with a limited practical impact; time based accessibility is a dominant perspective; and that shift strategies are caught in a permanent funding shortage.
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