Stockholm Network Meeting Report

We can look back to a successful 34th edition of the NETLIPSE Network Meeting. Big thanks to all the participants from no less than 13 countries, who made this meeting a success. A special thank you to Stefan Persson & Niklas Bergman from the Stockholm Region for hosting the meeting, to Lisa Jacobsson & Peter Svärd from the City of Stockholm for arranging the inspiring site visit to the New Slussen project and to Alexandra Stassois-Söderblom from Trafikverket for sponsoring the lunches!

Over 60 professionals in the field of large infrastructure projects got the opportunity to meet in person, share the challenges they face, exchange good practices, and come up with new ideas to tackle these challenges.

Day 1 – Monday:

Monday’s programme focused on the themes of sustainability in contracting and construction, and bridging the gap between policy and delivery.

Niklas Bergman – Welcome & Introduction of the Stockholm Extended Metro Administration
The day started with a warm welcome from Niklas Bergman from the Stockholm Region and an introduction into the Stockholm Region’s Extended Metro Administration. In order to accommodate the growth of Stockholm, the Extended Metro Administration was established and assigned with the task of constructing a 30km metro extension, including 18 stations and a new depot.

Presentation: Steve Persson – Perspective on sustainability in contracting
The first case on sustainability was presented by Steve Persson from the Extended Metro Administration. His presentation elaborated on the different success factors for the new metro and key challenges in ensuring relevant sustainability requirements and high performance. Key success factors are making sure that sustainability is embedded on all levels within an organisation, enough resources are dedicated, and all project team members are continuously informed and educated. This way, the Extended Metro Administration is trying to reduce climate impact during the project with 25%, and manages to do so without increasing costs.

In order to measure the degree of sustainability in the project, the CEEQUAL sustainability assessment tool is being implemented, which can be used in all phases of the project to measure the various aspects of sustainability in infrastructure and civil works.

Presentation: Paula Kajava – Towards Emission Free Building Sites
The second case on sustainability was presented by Paula Kajava from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA). Paula focused on how the Green Deal from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment is implemented in the FTIA’s projects. The Green Deal contains the commitment of Finland to become a carbon neutral society by 2035. In order to achieve this, FTIA aims to reduce emissions from building sites with the help of public procurement. Reduction of emissions will be achieved through the use of renewable energy (e.g. for heating), eco-friendly machinery, and efficient material transportation.

Challenges in Finland are the availability of electricity infrastructure outside urban areas and the fact that the lifecycle of the current fleet of (carbon-based) machinery is still quite long. This means that it will take time before these have been replaced by eco-friendly alternatives.

In order to calculate the lifecycle greenhouse-gas emissions of infrastructure projects, the FTIA is developing a National Emission Database for Infrastructure Construction. This database will be integrated with the FTIA’s Infrastructure Cost Management System. This way the plans for cutting emissions submitted during tenders can be rated based on their impact.

Jochen Eid & Oliver Krenz – Die Autobahn & NETLIPSE IPAT Programme
Jochen Eid announces the intention of Die Autobahn to enter into an innovation partnership with NETLIPSE by the end of 2022. Based on the experiences of two previously conducted IPAT assessments on the Munich Ring road and a dedicated NETLIPSE workshop on sustainability and rising project costs, it was acknowledged that exchanging ideas on an international scale would provide a lot of possibilities for learning and improvement for Die Autobahn’s organisation.

Oliver Krenz continued by elaborating on the sustainability programme that is being developed by Die Autobahn. There are 10 sustainability goals, ranging from becoming climate neutral, to reducing the amount of traffic jams, and providing zero-emission charging stations. The regional divisions of Die Autobahn are conducting pilot projects that support each of these 10 goals. Once a regional pilot shows promising results, the project will be scaled up to a national level.

Presentation: Gillian Worley – Policy vs. Delivery
Gillian Worley from the Department of Transport (DfT) presented the challenge of getting policies and projects to work together harmoniously and alongside each other to ensure that the most effective outcomes and outputs are delivered for the end user. Too often policies and projects in the UK are misaligned due to the nature of both policies and projects. As policies have the tendency to evolve, change their interpretation, and are intentionally vague, while projects are preconcepted to be inflexible, on a fixed timescale and have certain activities cast in stone.

In order to bring these two world closer together, the DfT has developed an approach in which colocation of teams, transparency, effective communications and honesty & integrity play a key role. As a reaction, the FTIA reminded the room that they are already working with ‘Big Rooms’ in projects, in which clients, contractors, and other stakeholders work together in one office. Policymakers could be added to these Big Rooms as well.

In the following discussion it became clear that being transparent could also be punished by negative responses from media and politicians, which has led to an environment in which lessons aren’t learned. A coping mechanism could be to brand projects as pilot projects where it is more politically acceptable to make mistakes and have budget overruns.

Presentation: Stefan Persson – Challenges of the Extended Metro Administration’s Project Portfolio
Stefan Persson presented the challenges of the Stockholm Region’s Extended Metro Administration (EMA). The EMA is the result of two agreements on housing in the Stockholm Region, in which budgets for the development of the metro system were allocated. In 2019, it became clear that the metro extension would have a budget overrun, which was caused to a time-consuming planning process with different municipalities, additional scope resulting from changed safety requirements, and environmental restrictions concerning leakage of ground water into the tunnels.

In 2021, a new agreement came into place in which additional budget was allocated, and it was agreed that risks would be communicated immediately and cost saving measures would be assessed.

Lessons learned included to integrate second opinions in cost estimates, to study alternatives with all funding parties, and pro-actively communicate cost overruns. This has resulted in factual reporting in the media and no internal conflicts so far.

Presentation: Lisa Jacobsson & Peter Svärd – New Slussen Project
Lisa Jacobsson and Peter Svärd introduced the New Slussen project which is located in the heart of Stockholm. The project combines the creation of an attractive and safe urban environment with more space for public transport, pedestrians, and cyclists. Additionally, the project safeguards the drinking water supply for 2 million people, by making sure that Lake Mälaren (which is the drinking water supply) isn’t flooded by incoming salt water from the Baltic Sea.

The NETLIPSE delegates not only enjoyed visiting the impressive site, which was especially opened for the group, but also the information provided on the project in the information centre.

Day 2 – Tuesday

Tuesday’s programme was all about learning. The day opened with a presentation from Marcello Cademartori from RINA Consulting on the lessons learned from the reconstruction of the New Genoa Bridge, which was followed by the annual research café. The day was concluded with a presentation by Mauri Makiaho and Pekka Petäjäniemi from FTIA on budgeting in uncertain times.

Presentation: Marcello Cademartori –  Project Management, works supervision, health and safety management of the New Bridge Genova San Giorgio
The Morandi bridge, which was an important connection between the west and east of Italy and the Genoa harbour, collapsed in 2014 and left a scar in the shared history of all Italians. Immediately it became clear that the bridge had to be reconstructed quickly.

Because of the critical situation, the Italian senate appointed an ‘Extraordinary Commissioner’ who was exempted from any laws other than criminal law and mandatory EU regulations. Due to the extreme urgency that was felt by all stakeholders, it was possible to get an expert team ready to do the work, expediate the permitting and contracting phases, organise extra testing of materials among other things resulting in a new bridge within one and a half years.

Because of this success, the ‘Genoa Model’ is now being studied to see what parts can be applied in regular projects. The conclusions currently are to focus on a pro-active approach to the design with the use of ‘Technical Tables’, introduce complete transparency (design documents were publicly available), and a strong focus on quality through extensive controls and traceability of components.

Research Café
The annual Research Café provides an opportunity to five researchers involved in relevant studies on the delivery of large infrastructure projects, to present and discuss their studies and/or findings to an audience of client/sponsor representatives as well as project managers and colleague researchers. This way NETLIPSE helps bridging the gap between theory and practice.

The following studies were discussed:

  • Sebastian Kussl (Nye Veier) – Organisational issues in digital transformation of road infrastructure
  • Christina Unterhitzenberger (University of Leeds) – Organisational justice in projects
  • Anna af Hällström (Chalmers University) – Collaboration in infrastructure projects – project networks and conflict
  • Per Erik Eriksson (ProcSIBE / Trafikverket) – Analysing innovation needs as a basis for public procurement of innovation
  • Marian Bosch-Rekveldt & Johan Ninan (TU Delft) – Achieving cumulative learning for infrastructure projects in transition

Presentation: Mauri Makiaho and Pekka Petäjäniemi – budgeting in uncertain times
The meeting concluded with a presentation by Mauri Makiaho and Pekka Petäjäniemi from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA). As Finland shares many of its borders and transport corridors with Russia and traffic and goods transportation are no longer allowed across these borders, many of these traditional corridors currently can’t be used.

The result is a shift in the transportation corridors. Some railroads experience increased traffic, while others experience a decrease. Correctly allocating long-term investment and maintenance funds has become a bigger challenge due to the uncertainty of the duration of the current situation. As an answer, the FTIA has developed the ‘Transport 12 Plan’ which contains a framework to determine how to distribute the available funds between the various transport corridors.

Additionally, due to the uncertain resource prices, it has become much harder to provide a cost estimation up-front. Therefore the FTIA no longer communicates a single amount, but has switched to communicating certain bandwidths for project costs. Future projects will also include indexes in their contracts.

Announcement next Network Meeting

The Network Meeting ended with a short presentation by the host of the next NETLIPSE meeting, the organisation Lantis responsible for complex mobility projects in the Antwerp region, represented by Roland van Driel and Hans Baeten. We are very pleased to be able to announce that Lantis will host the 2023 spring Network Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium on April 17-18th. We hope to see you there!