Project Management in the Information Age
MASY1-GC1250 – Project Management in the Information Age – Sp2022
Team Simulation Project – Project Business Case
For the second phase of the team simulation project, your team will be expected to create and submit a business case for your proposed project. This exercise builds from the project proposal created in the first phase and should address any feedback requested by your instructor in his comments regarding your team’s project proposal.
A template has been provided for the business case. It is included along with the assignment content in the designated assignment page in NYU Classes, as well as in the Templates folder in the Resources area. For your convenience, an example of a business case created by a team from a former course will also be provided.
The business case template incorporates aspects of your project proposal and specifically addresses the reasons why the project is being proposed. Most importantly, it includes details about the cost and benefits of the project and lists key factors affecting its success. Your business case should include each of the sections listed below. Detailed explanations of each section are included in the business case template. Please contact your instructor if any additional explanations or clarifications are needed:
The purpose of this project is enhance California’s economy by way of a high-speed rail line between
Los Angeles and San Francisco, in keeping with RapidTrak’s mission to expand high-speed rail service
across the country. Our project will catalyze environmental and economic benefits in the state and
greatly reduce the time necessary to travel between its two biggest cities. Total costs for the entire
endeavor are projected at $50 billion, for an estimated completion by the end of 2029.
Compared to systems in Japan, China and Europe, inter-city rail service in the United States is
undeveloped. The main national carrier, Amtrak, is only profitable in its Northeast Corridor line (serving
Boston to Washington, D.C.), and even the “high-speed” Acela trains that operate on this line are very
slow compared to state-of-the-art high-speed rail abroad. However, American public interest in high-
speed rail is markedly on the rise, especially in the wealthier, more densely-populated coastal states.
This comes at a time when interest in revitalizing America’s transportation infrastructure to be more
environmentally friendly is also reaching a peak.
The domestic railway industry is generally stagnant or in decline, with a lack of appropriate investment
in new technology and expert personnel leaving the workforce. Throughout the country, Amtrak
operates slow, outdated trains, mostly on tracks that are actually owned by major freight rail lines,
meaning that passenger traffic must yield to freight at all times. Domestic expertise in high-speed rail is
limited, so any attempt to implement a high-speed system here will have to import and adapt
technologies pertaining to the design and control of the trains themselves, techniques in track
construction and more.
Given these challenges, our attention turns to California, which has made it a priority to improve its
environment and transportation in tandem. The state’s roadways are among the most-used (and most-
congested) in the nation, with drivers wasting over $18 billion annually in lost productivity and wasted
fuel. Moreover, the air travel routes between Los Angeles and San Francisco serve over five million
passengers annually but regular delays significantly erode the time saved by flying. As passenger
volumes increase and climate and pollution become more of a concern, it becomes clear that the state is
in serious need of additional transportation options.
Therefore, California is a perfect candidate for RapidTrak’s inaugural high-speed project. Our
recommendation is to construct and operate a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San
Francisco, in the style of Japan’s “Shinkansen” railroad, connecting the cities of Bakersfield, Fresno and
San Jose along the way. Planning and executing the project within a single state exposes us to fewer
political and regulatory challenges. Plus, California’s government is receptive to the idea of high-speed
rail, so we expect it to be a cooperative partner.
We expect such a rail line to achieve a range of economic and environmental effects for the state,
summarized here and further elaborated throughout this document:
- Reduced travel times
- Job creation
- Statewide economic growth
- Greenhouse gas reductions
- Eased traffic congestion and fewer automobile accidents
Because RapidTrack has a nation-wide mission, we chose between three potential routes for a new high-
- Boston to Washington, D.C.: This route would accelerate transit along the profitable and densely populated Northeast Corridor.
- New York to Chicago: Satisfies an under-served East-West route and improves economic access to/from Midwest cities like Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburgh.
- Los Angeles to San Francisco: Operates in a single state, serves two of the nation’s highest- value cities, and solves known, critical problems about traffic and pollution.
Within this scope, however, and because domestic expertise in high-speed rail is limited, we have to
choose whether to model RapidTraks’ line on Chinese, Japanese or European technology. Ultimately we
are attracted to Japan’s “Shinkansen” system for its excellent safety ratings and overall high quality.
Goals & Objectives
RapidTrack’s goal is to improve California’s transportation infrastructure, ease environmental pressure,
and create economic opportunity in the region. To that end, the objective of this project is to build a
high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, the state’s two most important cities.
Providing a reliable rail network can help serve the needs of national and regional area by offering
convenient access to economic centers. We hope to achieve the following objectives by way of our high-
- Reduction in travel time. Covering a little over 400 miles at speeds approaching 200 miles per
hour, the total length of a journey between Los Angeles and San Francisco should be little more
than two hours. Currently, flying between each city takes at least two and a half hours,
accounting for time spent getting to or from each airport in California’s bad traffic.
- Reduction in carbon emissions. The rail line could eliminate up to 300,000 metric tons of
carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the first year of operation, equivalent to 53,000 personal
vehicles taken off the road. By 2040, the system is estimated to reduce vehicles miles of travel in
the state by almost 10 million miles of travel every day.
- Reduction in auto accidents. By providing a safe, efficient alternative, we hope to reduce auto
accidents in line with a general reduction in auto traffic between both termini.
- Economic growth. The rail line will provide faster and more convenient access to major city
centers, extending the geographic range in which they can spend money and work. We expect
the project to add at least 100,000 jobs to the California economy, accounting for temporary
work attached to the project itself and permanent job growth resulting from the train’s presence
in the region.
The project makes a set of assumptions about the logistics and nature of the proposed high-speed line:
- What RapidTrak provides to California aligns with its expressed goals and values, so therefore
we assume that state and local governments will be cooperative, at least enough as to not impede
- We will make a conservative assumption that we will not be able to acquire all the land
necessary for tracks and stations along our idealized route. We assume that it will sometimes be
necessary to deviate from the planned route in order to avoid insurmountable costs or
inconvenience, even though doing so will require changes to scheduling and budget.
- The extent of the economic benefit to California can only be drawn in assumptions at this point.
Past rail projects in other countries do point to promising results, however.
- The most basic assumption made by this project is that Californians would be interested enough
in high-speed rail to use our line in such high numbers as to achieve the desired economic benefit
for the region.
We also have to acknowledge the challenges and constraints that will likely affect our work.
- As mentioned in the proposal, one of the biggest sets of constraints will be where exactly
RapidTrak can secure land for building the tracks.
- Because of RapidTrak’s ownership by the federal government, we expect conflict over budget
constraints to arise every year, especially during times of turnover in political leadership as the
government re-calibrates its priorities for infrastructure spending.
- Constructing the rail line will require a massive amount of labor, over a long period of time and
spread across a wide geographical area. It could be challenge to have as many appropriately
skilled workers as are needed at all active job sites at all times.
Critical Success Factors
In order for this project to be successful, we see five factors that deserve our close attention moving
- A highly detailed but flexible WBS. This will be a massive, long-term infrastructure project, vulnerable to complication and delay at a micro level. Our work breakdown structure must be
able to account for the possibility of contingency spending, crashing, re-scheduling and more
- Effective control of the project budget. The demands of the WBS also mean that at a high- level, the management of our project budget must be of utmost quality.
- Diligent earned value management. Because this will be such a large, expensive project with so many moving parts, we must play close attention to how we are spending our funds, which
aspects of the project are making the most efficient use of time and money, and be ready to re-
plan or re-allocate those resources within the project portfolio as becomes necessary.
- Satisfaction of state and local government stakeholders. It will be crucial to keep these stakeholders informed, engaged and satisfied with and about our work. If RapidTrak should wear
out its welcome in the state, our project will be doomed.