Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Staff photo

Dr Phill Wheat

Associate Professor

Programme Leader for MSc Transport Economics

Phone: +44 (0)113 34 35344
Room: 2.14
Email: P.E.Wheat@its.leeds.ac.uk_
Research Group: Economics and Appraisal

Dr. Phill Wheat is an applied economist and econometrician at the University of Leeds. He is Programme Leader for the new MSc Transport Economics Postgraduate Programme starting September 2016.

 

Research Interests

Dr. Phill Wheat is a transport economist and applied econometrician whose primary area of interest is the analysis of transport costs and how these are influenced by the competitive, market structure and institutional factors within transport markets. His work is a mixture of applied econometric analysis, development of econometric performance measurement techniques and regulatory economics. Phill's work includes collaborative theoretical research in econometrics with William Greene of New York University examining issues in econometric performance models.

He has wide ranging experience of cost and performance analysis in the rail sector including important studies for the Office of Rail Regulation and Department for Transport.

He is also actively developing new economic research avenues in Local and Strategic Highways. Dr Wheat is Co-founder of the CQC Efficiency Network  – A collaborative network of highways departments of Local Authorities in Britain to enable the identification of best practice in highway maintenance. 

A flavour of Dr Wheat's research is given in the following presentations:

Returns to scale and density in passenger train operations in the presence of heterogeneity in outputs

Quantifying and decomposing the uncertainty in appraisal value of travel time savings

Phill is actively seeking to supervise PhD students in a variety of economics applications both within transport applications and wider regulation of infrastructure issues. He welcomes discussions with potential students about possible research topics and how to tailor research to meet the objectives of individual students.

Employment History

  • 2017 onwards Associate Professor, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • 2010 – 2016 Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • 2009 – 2014 Visiting Researcher, Centre for Transport Studies, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • 2005 - 2010    Research Fellow, Institute for Transport      Studies, University of Leeds
  • 2003 - 2005   Consultant, Faber Maunsell
  • 2002 - 2003   Assistant, Faber Maunsell

Education

PhD University of Leeds. “Econometric cost analysis in vertically separated railways”. Viva date June 2014, awarded with “Research Excellence”.

MA Transport Economics, University of Leeds. Distinction, 2006, Best MA student and Best Masters Dissertation prizes

BSc (Honours) Economics and Econometrics, University of Nottingham. First Class, 2003.

 

Research Project Experience

  • 2015 onwards

Local Authorities – CQC Efficiency Network (2015 onwards)

Dr Wheat is Co-founder of the CQC Efficiency Network (subscription service) – A collaborative network of highways departments of Local Authorities in Britain to enable the identification of best practice in highway maintenance. http://nhtcqc.econtrack.co.uk/Default.aspx.

  • 2015

Office of Rail and Road – Benchmarking Highways England

With KPMG, Phill is advising ORR on what data and techniques can be used in future to assess the efficiency and performance of Highways England .

  • 2013 - 2015

Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme – Cost Quality Customer Statistical Benchmarking for Highways Authorities (2013-2015)

Phill has piloted the development of statistical cost benchmarking models for Local Authority highway departments to guide adoption of best practice to yield best value.

  • 2015

Competition and Markets Authority – Advice on the relative costs of open access operators relative to franchise operators

Comparison of the costs of open access operators relative to franchised passenger operators using an econometric model developed over a number of research projects. Used by CMA to inform their recent project on competition in the passenger rail industry.

  • August 2009 – April 2015

Top-down Infrastructure Econometric International Benchmarking (Office of Rail Regulation funded)
Benchmarking study utilising stochastic frontier methods with data from several European and world infrastructure managers. Builds on earlier work used in the 2008 Periodic Review.

  • January 2012 – January 2013

Advice on Statistical Confidence of Appraisal Non-Work Values of Time (Department for Transport funded)
Project to determine confidence intervals on values of travel time used by DfT in order to understand uncertainty surrounding these estimates.

  • December 2011 – April 2013

The impact of large changes in Generalised Journey Time on rail passenger demand (ATOC funded)
Project to look at enhancements to econometric demand models to examine whether there is empirical support for different GJT elasticities depending on the size of the GJT change.

  • 2011 – 2015

SUSTRAIL (EU Seventh Framework Programme funded)
Phill is project director for ITS’s inputs into this €9m project examining means to make rail freight sustainable. ITS are work package leader for work examining economic appraisal and incentives for implementation including research on differentiating access charges.

  • September 2009- December 2010

Econometric Evidence on Train Operating Company size (Office of Rail Regulation funded)
Econometric analysis to determine potential cost savings from merging various passenger train operating companies in Great Britain.

  • August 2009 – October 2009

Audit of Train Operating Cost Module in NMF (National Audit Office funded)
Phill undertook a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing train operating cost module in the DfT’s National Modelling Framework, both in terms of its internal composition and how it related to other modules in the framework.

  • 2009-2010

Development of an Enhanced Train Operating Cost Module in NMF (Department for Transport)
Econometric efficiency cost analysis to inform the enhanced train operating cost module for the revised NMF currently under development. The analysis provides objective information to validate the assumptions in the module and provide parameters.

  •  2008-2010

Concessionary fares – reimbursement of bus operators – econometric demand modelling (Department for Transport funded)
Econometric analysis of STATS100A data to inform the elasticities of demand in order to better determine reimbursement to operators resulting from resent reforms to the concessionary travel system in England.

  • November 2006 – September 2010

Rail Research UK Project B7: Railway System Cost Modelling (EPSRC funded)
Study of railway passenger train operators cost and performance post privatisation. It examined the impact on TOC performance of different franchise contracting arrangements, highlighted the best performing TOCs .

  • December 2007 – May 2009

International Benchmarking of Network Rail’s efficiency performance (Office of Rail Regulation funded)
Benchmarking study utilising stochastic frontier methods with regional data from several European and world infrastructure managers. The work feed into the 2008 Periodic Review of Network Rail’s finances.

  • September 2007 – May 2009

Cost Allocation of Transport Infrastructure CATRIN (EU Sixth Framework funded)
The work on rail infrastructure costs focuses on addressing the key outstanding empirical research needs, including addressing the modelling of renewals costs and investigating the reasons for differences in results across EU countries. Phill was responsible for ITS’ inputs and managing the rail work package, which involved partners from over five organisations acrossEurope.

  •  August 2008 – January 2009

Public transport reform Outline Business Case (Department of Regional Development – Northern Ireland funded)
Advice to DRD regarding reform ofNorthern Ireland’s public transport system. In particular Phill’s input focuses on benchmarking the performance of Translink relative to international comparators and utilising this information to inform the best organisational structure to adopt.

  • January 2008 – February 2008

Review of Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan (Office of Rail Regulation funded)
Independent review of the structure and level of access charges contained in Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan.

  • January 2006

Structure of Costs and Charges Review – review of work on avoidable costs and on cost variability (Office of Rail Regulation funded)
Independent review of the ORR’s recent consultancy projects on charging for variable and fixed costs of infrastructure use.

  • July 2005 – December 2006

Generalisation of Research on Accounts and Cost Estimation (GRACE) – Estimating the marginal cost of wear and tear of rail infrastructure usage (EU Sixth Framework funded)
The work on rail infrastructure usage utilised data supplied by Network Rail to estimate a cost function for maintenance expenditure for theUKrail network. The project also contributed to Network Rails understanding of cost trends and drivers of maintenance expenditure.

  •  April 2005 – June 2006

Rail Research UK – Project B4: System Level Cost framework for the assessment of sub-system tradeoffs (EPSRC funded)
The main aim of this project is to identify and quantify techno-economic tradeoffs within the railway system. 

  • MSc Transport Economics Programme Leader
  • Module Leader TRAN5113 Transport Econometrics

This module covers econometric material relevant to analysis of economic data in transport. It emphasizes the applied nature of the discipline through student led illustrative practical examples and the crucial linkage between economics and statistics the forms the econometrics discipline.

  • Dissertation supervision

Phill has supervised a number of undergraduate economics and post graduate economics dissertations across a range of topics including the incentives of opt-in organ donation to the impact of open access competition in railways. Phill is actively seeking to supervise PhD students in a variety of economics applications both within transport applications and wider regulation of infrastructure issues. He welcomes discussions with potential students about possible research topics and how to tailor research to meet the objectives of individual students.

Papers

Book Chapters

Reports

Conference Papers

Conference Presentations

  • Wheat P; Wardman M (2017) Effects of timetable related service quality on rail demand, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 95, pp.96-108. doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2016.11.009
  • Stead AD; Wheat PE; Greene WH (2016) Estimating Efficiency in the Presence of Extreme Outliers: t­-Truncated Normal and t­-Exponential Stochastic Frontiers, North American Productivity Workshop IX .
  • Stead AD; Wheat PE (2016) A Mixture Distribution Stochastic Frontier Model, 6th Network of Industrial Economists Doctoral Student Colloquium .
  • Yokomi M; Wheat PE; Mizutani J (2015) The Impact of LCC on Non-Aeronautical Revenues in Airport: An Empirical Study of UK Airports, Air Transport Research Society 2014 .
  • Yokomi M; Wheat P; Mizutani J (2015) The relationships of LCC frequencies and non-aeronautical revenues in > airport: An empirical study of UK, The Japan Society of Transportation Economics .
  • Yokomi M; Wheat P; Mizutani J (2015) The impact of LCC on non-aeronautical revenues in airport: An empirical model with airport congestion, Seminar to the International Institute of American Studies .
  • Rasmussen T; Wheat P; Smith A (2015) Do open access train operators exhibit inherent cost benefits compared to their franchised counterparts?, International Transportation Economics Association Annual Conference and Summer School (Kuhmo Nectar) .
  • Vaghi C; Wheat PE; Osterle I; Nellthorp J (2013) The role of human factors in rail freight innovation, Transport Research Arena 2014 .
  • Wheat PE; Smith ASJ; Greene W (2011) How confident can we be about confidence intervals for firm specific inefficiency scores from parametric Stochastic Frontier Models?, 12th European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis .
  • Wheat P; Smith A (2009) An International Efficiency Comparison of Rail Infrastructure Managers: An Ananysis Utilising Sub-Company data and a Dual Level Inefficiency Model, 11th European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis .
  • Smith A; Wheat P (2009) The Effect of Franchising on Cost Efficiency: Evidence from the Passenger Rail Sector in Britain, 11th Conference on Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport .
  • Smith A; Wheat P (2009) The Application of Time Varying Efficiency Models to the Study of Passenger Rail Franchising in Britain, 11th European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis .
  • Wheat P (2008) The Power of Sub-Company data for Estimating Efficiency Frontiers, 5th North American Productivity Workshop .
  • Wheat PE; Smith ASJ (2007) A Quantitative Study of Train Operating Companies Cost and Efficiency Trends 1996 to 2006: Lessons for Future Franchising Policy, Tenth European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis, Lille, France. 2007 .
  • Smith ASJ; Wheat PE (2007) A Quantitative Study of Train Operating Companies Cost and Efficiency Trends 1996 to 2006: Lessons for Future Franchising Policy, European Transport Conference 2007, Netherlands. .
  • Wheat PE; Smith ASJ (2006) Assessing the marginal infrastructure wear and tear costs for Great Britain’s railway network, European Transport Conference September 2006, Strasbourg. .

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