8th September 2014

Knowledge Type

Case study Research paper


, N/A

Major Project



Harry T. Dimitriou, Bartlett School of Planning, UCLNicholas Low, Centre for Sustainable Transport, University of MelbourneSophie Sturup, Department of Urban Planning and Transport, Liverpool University, SuzhouGenevieve Zembri, University of Cergy PontoiseElizabeth Campagnac, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et ChausseesGeorge Kaparos, University of ThessalyPantoleon Skayannis, University of ThessalyYasunori Muromachi, Tokyo Institute of TechnologySeiji Iwakura, Shibaura Institute of Technology, TokyoKazuya Itaya, Institute of Transport Economics, TokyoMendel Giezen, Copernicus Institute for Sustainable DevelopmentLuca Bertolini, University of AmsterdamWillem Salet, University of AmsterdamJamil Khan, Lund UniversityFredrik Pettersen, Lund UniversityBengt Holberg, Lund UniversityE. John Ward, Bartlett School of Planning, UCLPhil G. Wright, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL

Of Interest To

Academia Consultants Contractors Leadership teams Operators Private sector clients Public sector clients

What constitutes a successful mega transport project?: Leadership, risk and storylines


Case study lessons from the Sydney Cross City Tunnel; the LGV Méditerranée high speed railway; the Athens Metro Base Project; the Metropolitan Expressway in Tokyo; the RandstadRail project: the case of the Öresund Link; and the UK Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The academic and professional interest in mega projects and Mega-transport Projects (MTPs) in particular has followed a dramatic world-wide expansion of mega project studies and developments since the latter part of the twentieth century both in the developed and developing world.

The sheer size of MTPs results in daunting planning, appraising and management challenges with economic, social, environmental and territorial impacts that reach far beyond the project itself. It is hardly an overstatement to say that a MTP can make or break a place. But what constitutes a “successful” MTP? How to take account of the unique complexities of MTPs when defining what success is? And can there be a generic definition of “success” or should the definition be dependent on each specific context?

The contributions which follow look to provide insights into the answer to some of these questions from a variety of perspectives. They are based, among other things, on the story-telling of key stakeholders reporting on aspects of project developments that went far beyond “iron-triangle” delivery concerns of finishing projects on time, on cost, and within specifications that have dominated the narrative of much of the literature regarding mega projects (Dimitriou et al., 2013). The research undertaken was conducted on the basis of a systematic examination of decision-making in the planning, appraisal and delivery of 30 MTPs (see Table 1) derived from a 5-year research programme conducted by the OMEGA Centre at University College London (UCL) in association with nine other universities in 10 different countries. Undertaken between 2006 and 2011, the research was funded by the Volvo Research and Education Foundations (VREF) and involved interviews of some 300 project stakeholders in developed economies, including Australia, France, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, the USA, Germany, and Hong Kong.