Effects of the EU Rail Liberalisation on International Rail Passenger Transport



Effects of the EU Rail Liberalisation on International Rail Passenger Transport

Authors

H Maurer, A Burgess, P Hilferink, NEA Transport Research and Training, NL; T Whiteing, ITS University of Leeds, UK; E Kroes, Significance, NL

Description

This paper examines the development of the EU27 cross-border rail passenger market prior to its liberalisation in January 2010, and assesses the possible future response in supply and demand under market liberalisation.

Abstract

This paper examines the development of the EU27 cross-border rail passenger market prior to its liberalisation in January 2010, and assesses the possible future response in supply and demand under market liberalisation. The main contribution of this study is two-fold: firstly, in order to overcome the serious lack of information relating to international services in Europe various data sources were combined to provide the basis for quantitative analysis. Secondly, the analysis allows policy makers to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of the EC rail market liberalisation directives.

Over the past 20 years the European Community has been engaged in restructuring the European rail transport market and promoting the growth of rail transport. The Community?s efforts in opening the rail market, improving interoperability and developing rail infrastructure have resulted in growth of the rail market, and with the opening of the rail market for international passenger transport services since the beginning of 2010 continued growth is expected.

This study distinguishes between the development of international rail passenger transport in the EU27 and between EU27 and neighbouring countries. To estimate rail passenger transport performance in the absence of a single comprehensive data source, three approaches have been combined: (i) modelling of passenger flows in the EU27 in 2005 using TRANS-TOOLS; (ii) estimates of cross-border passenger rail transport for the period 2000-2008 based on Eurostat transport statistics (iii) train service frequencies in various years based on timetable information. For understanding trends in rail freight, more straightforward analysis of existing transport data has been possible.

Based on such methods, this paper discusses the evidence on the trends in rail traffic across international borders in recent years. Results for rail demand are presented separately for passenger traffic across internal EU27 borders by geopolitical submarkets, namely EU15, who joined the EU before 2004, the new member states EU12, and traffic between the EU27 and neighbouring countries - Switzerland, Norway, the Balkan countries and Eastern Europe. The analysis of international rail passenger supply additionally took into consideration various submarkets by train type (high-speed trains, Eurocity/Intercity, long-distance trains, and regional trains).

The following aspects of international rail travel have been analysed:
o Demand developments in the recent past
o Supply idem
o Projected demand for the period up to 2020
o Developments with operators
o Cross-border traffic
o Niche markets, such as night trains
o Barriers to entry and competition
o Profitability

Although significant growth in rail markets is predicted, there are still significant barriers to entry and competition that will need to be overcome. The paper sets these out, establishes their importance and discusses how they might be overcome in the future.

In summary, primary gains from liberalisation are the pro-competitive effects which will benefit the railways in the long run. A key problem in the international rail passenger market however, is that most market segments, with the exception of most high-speed rail services, are hardly or not at all profitable.

Publisher

Association for European Transport