Performance and Efficiency of High-speed Rail Systems
Jack Doomernik, Antwerp University
This benchmark study identifies the best high-speed rail practices in the world and clarifies the performance and efficiency of the world’s major high-speed rail systems currently in operation.
Since the introduction in Japan in 1964 and in France in 1981 high-speed rail systems have been developed in various countries in Asia and Europe. Governments try to create new dynamics in railway transport to cater for the rising need for high-speed travel demand and railways are revitalized to be able to compete better with other modes of transport. An important focus is on the development of new high-speed networks in order to facilitate growth in mobility and to limit air travel.
The building of high-speed rail systems requires substantial investments in infrastructure, railway stations and rolling stock. Meeting the expected performance and efficient use of capital-intensive infrastructure and rolling stock assets is needed to justify the investments made.
The goal of this paper is to identify the best high-speed rail practices in the world and to clarify the efficiency of the world’s major high-speed rail systems currently in operation. This study compares the high-speed rail performance of the world’s major high-speed rail systems currently in operation regarding travel performance, ridership, train fleet and network. The efficiency of these railway systems in Europe and Asia is compared by applying Data Envelope Analysis (DEA) techniques. Four Asian and four European high-speed rail systems are benchmarked against their peers using the actual system characteristics and performance between 2007 and 2012. This study identifies the most efficient high-speed rail systems in the world and the contributing factors to achieve high performance in production and marketing. High speed rail system operators can use the results to improve their performance and process efficiency. Policy makers that are planning for a high-speed rail future may benefit from the experiences in other countries to make better decisions on the investments in infrastructure and rolling stock needed.
Significant differences are found between Europe and Asia. Between 2007 and 2012 Asia achieved a productivity growth of 26.9%. Europe didn´t show any productivity improvement because, despite the 16.6% technical change, efficiency dropped with 14.4%. The results show a negative correlation between production efficiency and service effectiveness. For Europe this effect is much stronger than for Asia where a 10% increase in production efficiency comes with a 7% loss in service effectiveness.
Association for European Transport