Railway Reform in Europe: Where Are We Now? Railway Operators Facing Competition and Regionalization
L Guihery, LET, FR
The aim of this paper is to investigate - through comparative institutional analysis and public economics methodologies - the today situation of the Railway Reform in West and East Europe.
First started in Sweden, then initiated and supported by the European Union, the European railway reform is implemented at this time among the member states of the European Union with some delays depending of the speed ? and the political will - of the implementation of E.U. regulations and laws in national legal systems. Three main directions were designed : first splitting the infrastructure from the activity of railway transport ; secondly opening to competition the access to the network and third achieving a regionalization of passengers regional railway transport. The European Commission adopted on 23 January 2002 a new package ('second package') of measures to revitalize the railways by rapidly building an integrated European railway area. New proposals are today being developed by the European Union : the European Commission has indeed adopted on 3 March 2004 its third railway package containing measures to move the European railways forward.
The aim of this paper is to investigate - through comparative institutional analysis and public economics methodologies (scale and scope economies, benchmarking measures, data on traffic, financial results, productivity and efficiency analysis in Europe and East Europe) - the today situation of the Railway Reform in Europe : where are we now ? How far is competition introduced ? and how ? ? in the railway system ? We will then conclude by showing the challenge and limits of the reform introduced by the Commission. What are the today real brakes of the railway reform ? The development of the reform is then limited by the wish of some public authorities ? France, Germany, Italy - not to destabilize the financial situation ? in the framework of the Maastricht treaty - of the national operators but also to keep the ? leading position of the national operator which is ?satisfactory? at this point for some governments. In France, the financial support of the Central State is an accurate issue of the future of the reform and has to be clarified, maybe also at a European level. Our paper will also highlight the common problems of the railway reform by investigating, for example, entry barriers in railway transport which are very high for newcomers. We will also highlight the impact of the regionalization reform in some countries, for example France. We will show that regionalization is based on a double negotiation process : first, with the central State, it deals with the determining of financial grants due to this transfer of competence without transfer of charges. Secondly, it deals with a negotiation for establishing a convention Transport Authority / Regions and Operators. Organization and financing competence, communication, pricing, quality control will be competencies of the regions. And this is maybe the key point of the future of the Railway reform and its challenge for tomorrow : decentralization in the railway sector?
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