OMEGA Seminar Series 2009


Avoiding catastrophic climate change: what future for mega transport projects

Dr. Mayer Hillman, Policy Studies Institute, London

21st January 2009

Dr. Mayer Hillman is a Senior Fellow Emeritus in Policy Studies Institute, London. He is also the co-author of the Penguin book How we can save the planet. You can find more information about him on his website:

Risk management in a hypermobile world

Prof. John Adams, Dept. of Geography, UCL

11th February 2009

Hypermobility is a word I use to describe a world in which we are all moving about too much – both physically and electronically. The hypermobile world is one in which people and information move at high speed. It is an anonymous world – every year fewer people can attach a name to their geographical neighbours. it is a world low on trust. As trust decreases paranoia increases. The global sub-prime-credit-crunch has created conditions of unprecedented paranoia.

We are all risk managers. Some of us are institutional risk managers – managing risk on behalf of others. I shall explore the problem we all have of managing risk in condition of increasing paranoia.

NETLIPSE: Network for the dissemination of knowledge on the management and organisation of Large Infrastructure Projects in Europe

Marcel Hertogh, NETLIPSE, the Netherlands and Stuart Baker, DfT, UK

18th March 2009

The main objective of NETLIPSE, an EU-sponsored research project, is to set up an interactive and continuous network for Large Infrastructure Projects (LIPs) in Europe for the dissemination of experience and knowledge, specifically focused on management and organisational aspects of projects. At the core of the project is a knowledge capturing methodology that has been used to assess the quality of 15 LIPs to identify best practices for other projects. Through the network, partners can benefit form the experiences of other LIPs by sharing knowledge gained. For key stakeholders such as national and European policymakers, compilation of best practices can lead to the development of an infrastructure deployment maturity.

The early and strategic stages of planning a transport mega-project: a high-speed rail network for Britain

Dr. Jim Steer, Steer Davies Gleave, London

20th May 2009

The talk will cover the question of where mega-projects come from – how they are invented, as it were, and the related issue of objectives formulation. Stakeholders and the question of consultation are obviously important as is the need to be aware of the influences of politics and commercial interests. Greengauge 21 formed a ‘Public Interest Group’ in Spring 2008 to take forward and oversee the early development of thinking on high-speed rail and the way this has acted, including in defining the ‘mission’, will be explored. The key objectives are found to centre on capacity, on climate change and on economic growth & regeneration.

Jim Steer is Director of consultancy Steer Davies Gleave and of Greengauge 21, a not-for-profit organisation established to promote the debate and argue the case for high-speed rail in Britain. He founded both organisations. He is Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.

Insights from stakeholder narratives on CTRL

Phil Wright & Dr. John Ward, Research Fellows, OMEGA Centre

17th June 2009

This talk covers the OMEGA Network’s approach to the use of pre-hypothesis research (storytelling) in its investigation of Mega Urban Transport Project Case Studies1 (MUTPs). In addition, it highlights some of the key research findings from the use of this methodology as applied to the OMEGA Centre’s first Case Study project – the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The OMEGA Centre commenced operations in October 2006 and has established a network of nine Academic Partners in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia, supported by non-academic partners in each country. The Centre and its Partners are seeking to address the key question of ‘what constitutes a successful MUTP’ by undertaking some 32 Case Studies using a variety of data collection and analysis techniques.

Part of the original research programme proposal was the use of ‘pre-hypothesis’ research as a means of capturing contextually rich data from key stakeholders involved in/affected by MUTPs. This research method comprises an open discovery approach using (mainly) narrative extracted from project stakeholders in the form of anecdotes and experiences. The anecdotes are captured by ‘naive’ interview techniques and are analysed using specially designed software to identify patterns of knowledge emanating from the stories that are shared with us by key stakeholders.

The history and importance of the revitalisation of the urban rail system in Perth, Western Australia from 1979 to 2009

Prof. Jeffrey Kenworthy, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Curtin University in Perth, Australia

23rd June 2009

This informal talk covers the closure of the Fremantle Rail line in 1979 and the unstated intention of government to close the other two lines as well for the construction of urban freeways leading to the Perth CBD. It describes the fight that was mounted to prevent this, the political win that ensued and the complete reversal of rail’s fortune in the city with the electrification of the entire system, the construction of a new 31km line to the north and a 74km line to the south with underground stations in the CBD. Various angles and stories on this 30 year process will be discussed in the context of the entire enterprise really being one long mega-project, punctuated at the end with the $1.6bn rail line to the south, opened on December 23, 2007.

Dr Jeff Kenworthy is Professor in Sustainable Cities in the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) at Curtin University in Perth. Professor Kenworthy teaches courses and supervises postgraduate research students in the area of urban sustainability. He has 30 years experience in urban transport and land use policy with over 200 publications in the field. He is particularly noted for his international comparisons of cities around the theme of reducing automobile dependence.

Improving Decision-making for Major Urban Rail Projects

Dr. Roger J. Allport, Director, Allport Associates Ltd.

30th September 2009

This research concerns the management of dynamic complexity for a particularly demanding form of megaproject – ‘metros’ that are defined as urban rail systems that carry a mass ridership rapidly. Increasingly large cities that are not poor turn to metros as the centre-piece of their sustainable development policy. Metros are important because of this and because of their opportunity cost. It is evidently necessary that these decisions are soundly based.

The Hong Kong Approach

Prof. Tony Ridley, Transport Engineering, Imperial College London

21st October 2009