The Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is a planned immersed tunnel that will cross the Fehmarn Strait to connect Denmark and Germany. This large infrastructure project is mainly user funded, with an official projected payback period of less than 40 years. However, based on the latest research from RD&I Consulting based in Denmark, it is highly unlikely that this projected payback deadline will be met.
Hans Schjær-Jacobsen, Director of RD&I Consulting and former Professor and Director at the Technical University of Denmark, used Palisade’s @RISK software to create financial models for the Fixed Link to determine the likelihood of project success – or failure – in terms of the payback period.
Uncertainty in the model was calculated by probabilistic uncertainty representation and Monte Carlo simulation, as well as interval analysis. Schjær-Jacobsen leveraged @RISK software’s ability to calculate a genuine uncertainty profile by Monte Carlo simulation in contrast to just partial sensitivity analyses, using uniform and also triangular distributions as they were easily derived from double estimates (i.e. best- and worst-case), and triple estimates (i.e. best-, base- and worst-case), respectively. The simulation generated the probability distribution of the payback period for the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link over 60 years, providing a project uncertainty profile presented in terms of a traffic light metaphor: a green light corresponds to a payback period of less than 40 years, a yellow light corresponds to a payback period of 40-50 years, and a red light corresponds to a payback period of more than 50 years.
For the Danish government, the only acceptable outcome of the model for the projected payback period is in the green light zone: less than 40 years. However, based on the model created by Schjær-Jacobsen, the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is a high-risk business case and the likelihood of financial project failure in terms of the payback period taking longer than 40 years is equal to 92.5% and substantially larger than acknowledged by the project proponents and presented to the public. This is due to several realistic uncertainties based on readily available facts, including traffic volume and income, construction costs, services and EU subsidies.
“As nobody had done this kind of analysis on the project before, the results were a surprise,” explained Schjær-Jacobsen. “However, now that these results have been presented to Fehmarn A/S and the Commission of Transport, we will see how they impact future development of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link.”