Case study
Western Balkans transportation network

Improving transport resilience in the Western Balkans region

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Project details
Project name:
Western Balkans transportation network
Client name:
World Bank
Fleur Ruckley
Associate Director
James Martin
Principal Consultant
Key facts
Geographic area:
Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia
Tools used:
Interactive GIS web portal and Tableau Tool

The Western Balkans transportation network faces multiple pressures of increasing environmental risks, geopolitical challenges, aging infrastructure, population growth, increased freight demand and budget constraints. Most of the transportation infrastructure in the Western Balkans was built in the 1960-1970s and is therefore in urgent need of rehabilitation or replacement.

Wood worked with the World Bank to meet the changing demand patterns while ensuring the transportation network is resilient to future environmental hazards.

We carried out a study for the World Bank, that considers the impact and severity of climatic events and natural disasters on the resilience of the strategic road network in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The findings from this study are allowing the policy and decision-makers to prioritise key roads that require further resilience investment.

Using innovative tools to enable decision making

Wood designed and delivered a robust transportation-led multidisciplinary project assessing climate risks and their impacts on the transport network. The delivery team included specialist skills from Wood’s climate resilience, transport, economics and geographic information system (GIS) mapping teams.

The project was purposefully designed to build local adaptive capacity, whilst contributing to the mainstream regional and national adaptation efforts and can be scaled to other geographies. The team focussed on understanding the transportation network vulnerabilities through improved modelling, using innovative methods for data analysis and visualisation (like integrating strategic transport modelling with robust decision making) to protect the assets and strengthen the responses to disaster events and emergency incidents.

We developed a suite of tools, decision support systems, significantly enhancing the local capacity building and institutional responses to natural hazards and manmade disasters. These tools are underpinned by robust current data, but also acknowledge the underlying uncertainties.

Screenshot from GIS web portal tool

An interactive GIS web portal was created to support project delivery and communication, providing project stakeholders with a common view of environmental hazards, as well as information on critical transport infrastructure in the region.

Screenshot of Tableau Tool

A Tableau tool was developed to support the assessment of environmental hazards and their impact on the transportation network, as well as support sensitivity analysis by the customer and key stakeholders. The Tableau Tool provided visual decision-support tool to select links and view related hazard and disruption information at the individual link and selected data set levels.

‘“Through this study, Wood demonstrated a real understanding of the serious issues affecting the strategic regional road network and a pragmatic, robust approach to understanding pinch points on the network. We now look forward to utilising their expertise as we extend our assessment of the wider freight intermodal network.”

Romain Pison, Transport Lead at the World Bank

As a result, we were able to provide a comprehensive investment plan to support local policy and decision makers to prioritise future targeted investments in transportation infrastructure in the Western Balkans. The results showcased that a proportionally small but targeted investment programme (approx. $120m) could significantly enhance the resilience of the strategic transport network and the wider region, improving the economic performance and development of travel and trade in the region.

In the Western Balkans region, most freight is currently transported via roads that are susceptible to climatic events, resulting in delays at crossings. Communities in the region are also increasingly reliant on this transport network to carry out their daily activities. Wood assessed the potential of shifting freight movements in the Western Balkans to alternate forms of transport including rail and inland waterways. Our findings proposed, individual commodities, grain and metals are the first probable choices for switch of transport mode to rail (or inland waterways), as shipments throughout the Western Balkans are significant and terminals are near population centres across the region. Alongside consultation with local freight associations, Wood undertook a financial and socio-economic environmental feasibility assessment of several inter-modal terminal investments.


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