Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash


Railroads and economic development

Railroads are structurally complex systems and demand important financial contributions in investments and operational costs. However, the competitive advantages compared to other land modes are significant and reflect gains related to: (i) energy and operational efficiency, through gains of scale; (ii) lower environmental impacts both in installation and operation, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental externalities promoted by the movement of people and goods; and (iii) high transport capacity and gains in service level. Railroad transportation in Brazil presents structural problems.

Considering the movement of cargo in Brazil, there is a strong concentration in the use of the highway system (about 60% of transport production), even in the face of the predominance of commodity flows from the interior of the country to the international market. Railroads account for only a little more than 20% of this production. Taken together, Brazil’s subway network is shorter than the systems of New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and London individually. Furthermore, in regional terms, there are only two passenger rail lines which operate in shared sections with freight.

Thus, it becomes necessary to promote public policies and actions that seek (i) greater accessibility; and (ii) greater spatial and socioeconomic equity. Therefore, through this project, we intend to carry out a macro analysis of the Brazilian railroad sector on an urban and regional scale, for the transportation of cargo and people. Then, locational characteristics of the urban and regional demand for rail transport will be confronted and, finally, directions for remodeling the current system and proposing new investments in the Brazilian railroad structure will be proposed, aiming to promote greater spatial equity in the distribution of rail transport supply and in promoting economic integration in Brazil. Two projects are allocated under this umbrella project, namely: (i) Railway Macroanalysis: proposals for brazil (ii) Proposals for the Brazilian Railway System: an approach based on accessibility and sustainability.

Renata Oliveira
Professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences

My research interests include spatial analysis, city logistics and accessibility.