Augmenting the cities’ and metropolitan regional demands for mega rail infrastructure: the application of SWOT and factor analysis

Emma Mihocic, Koorosh Gharehbaghi, Per Hilletofth, Kong Fah Tee, Matt Myers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In successfully meeting city and metropolitan growth, sustainable development is compulsory. Sustainability is a must-focus for any project, particularly for large and mega rail infrastructure. This paper aims to investigate to what degree social, environmental and economic factors influence the government when planning sustainable rail infrastructure projects. To respond to such a matter, this paper focuses on two Australian mega-rail projects: the South West Rail Link (SWRL) and the Mernda Rail Extension (MRE). 

Design/methodology/approach: As the basis of an experimental evaluation framework strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) and factor analysis were used. These two methods were specifically selected as comparative tools for SWRL and SWRL projects, to measure their overall sustainability effect. 

Findings: Using factor analysis, in the MRE, the factors of network capacity, accessibility, employment and urban planning were seen frequently throughout the case study. However, politics and economic growth had lower frequencies throughout this case study. This difference between the high-weighted factors is likely a key element that determined the SWRL to be more sustainable than the MRE. The SWOT analysis showed the strengths the MRE had over the SWRL such as resource use and waste management, and natural habitat preservation. These two analyses have shown that overall, calculating the sustainability levels of a project can be subjective, based on the conditions surrounding various analysis techniques.

Originality/value: This paper first introduces SWRL and MRE projects followed by a discussion about their overall sustainable development. Both projects go beyond the traditional megaprojects' goal of improving economic growth by developing and enhancing infrastructure. Globally, for such projects, sustainability measures are now considered alongside the goal of economic growth. Second, SWOT and factor analysis are undertaken to further evaluate the complexity of such projects. This includes their overall sustainable development vision alignment with environmental, economic and social factors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Early online date2 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2024


  • Factor analysis
  • Mega rail infrastructure
  • Rail projects
  • SWOT analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Cultural Studies
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Augmenting the cities’ and metropolitan regional demands for mega rail infrastructure: the application of SWOT and factor analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this