Maritime Economics & Logistics

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 61–78 | Cite as

Evaluating the external costs of trailer transport: a comparison of sea and road

  • Inge Vierth
  • Victor Sowa
  • Kevin CullinaneEmail author
Original Article


The objective of this study is to deduce the comparative level of external costs per transported trailer within a context where an existing freight transport chain is replaced by one that includes greater use of shipping. Using both Sweden’s national guidelines for cost–benefit analysis (ASEK) and the European guidelines (Ricardo), the external costs of two alternative options are evaluated. The external costs for a road and shipping option are estimated to be lower than for the direct shipping option under Swedish guidelines, but higher under the European guidelines. However, the results favour the road and shipping option in preference to the direct shipping option under both Swedish and European guidelines when internalizing taxes and fees are accounted for. This is the case even where the shipping mode is compliant with the most stringent environmental regulations. The paper concludes that the evaluation system employed can have a fundamental impact on the outcome of a CBA and that the Swedish guidelines (ASEK) could by improved by incorporating specific values for air pollution from ships (particularly NOx emissions) and a system for regularly updating emission factors.


Freight transport Environment CBA Emissions ro–ro Ropax 



The authors are grateful to Sweden’s East Coast Ports Coalition for funding this study. For valuable comments received on an earlier version of the paper, thanks are due to Katarina Händel (Swedish Maritime Administration), Gunnel Bångman (Swedish Transport Administration), Henrik Swahn (HSAB) and Mattias Haraldsson (VTI – The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute). The authors would also like to thank Rune Karlsson at the VTI (for the use of Figs. 1 and 2), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Prof. Hercules Haralambides, and anonymous reviewers, for providing valuable feedback on an earlier version of the paper. The conclusions and recommendations expressed in the paper remain the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the VTI as an authority.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)StockholmSweden
  2. 2.Etraveli ABUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.School of Business, Economics and LawUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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