Transport Papers

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  • Publication
    High-Speed Rail: The Fast Track to Economic Development?
    (World Bank, Beijing, 2010-07) Amos, Paul; Bullock, Dick; Sondhi, Jitendra
    A high-speed rail service can deliver competitive advantage over airlines for journeys of up to about 3 hours or 750 km, particularly between city pairs where airports are located far from city centres. One suitable type of corridor is that which connects two large cities 250-500 km apart. But another promising situation is a longer corridor that has very large urban centres located, say, every 150-300 km apart. On these longer corridors, typical of some being built in China, high-speed rail has the ability to serve multiple city-pairs, both direct and overlapping. The overall financial performance of high-speed train services depends on enough people being able to pay a premium to use them. In Japan there is a surcharge for high-speed rail which doubles the fare on conventional services. China high-speed train fares are about three times conventional train fares. But in order to generate the required volume of passengers it will usually be necessary not only to target the most affluent travelers but also to adopt a fare structure that is affordable for the middle income population and, if any spare capacity still exists, to offer discount tickets with restrictions on use and availability that can fill otherwise unused seats. The combination of supportive features that exist on the eastern plains of China including very high population density, rapidly growing disposable incomes, and the prevalence of many large cities in reasonable proximity to one another (creating not just one city-pair but a string of such pairs) are not found in most developing countries. Nor could all countries assemble the focused collective capacity building effort and the economies of scale in construction costs that arise when a government can commit the country, politically and economically, to a decades-long program over a vast land area. Even in China, the sustainability of railway debt arising from the program as it proceeds will need to be closely monitored and payback periods will not be short, as they cannot be for such "lumpy" and long-lived assets. But a combination of those factors that create favorable conditions of both demand and supply comes together in China in a way that is distinctly favorable to delivering a successful high-speed rail system.
  • Publication
    The Financial Performance of Non-Urban Passenger Rail Services
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-09) Amos, Paul; Bullock, Richard
    The paper has three parts. It first summarizes the main factors that influence the costs and fare box cost recovery of rail passenger services, with illustrations from a range of different countries in which the Bank is involved in rail passenger operations. Second, it provides a generalized passenger service costing model, including indicative sets of input unit costs representing different levels of efficiency: this model is used for illustrative purposes in this paper but the structure can be readily applied by transport planners and policy-makers, with use of local parameters, in developing and transition countries. Third, it illustrates the cost drivers of services and the sensitivity of costs to different market and operational drivers. This report also addresses the sensitivity of cost to changes in key scenario assumptions. This shows that operating costs are minimized (but revenue not necessarily maximized) when operating speed is around 80 km/h. Above that speed, above-rail unit costs gradually increase as continuing reductions in time-related costs, principally rolling stock capital cost, are progressively offset by increased fuel consumption and equipment maintenance. Infrastructure maintenance costs also increase significantly with speed because of the need for higher quality track.
  • Publication
    Reform, Commercialization and Private Sector Participation in Railways in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-01) Amos, Paul
    Railway reform in the ECA region provides a mixed picture. Seven countries could reasonably be described as 'high' reformers: Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic. Most of the high and medium reformers have in the last few years adopted new railway laws, adopted more commercial business structures, tried explicitly to address the issue of funding passenger losses, privatized some non-core businesses and encouraged some competition in input (supply) markets. But only Estonia has privatized a core railway transport business while a few other countries (such as Kazakhstan and Romania) have instituted third party rail freight operations for a significant part of the market. Russia is classified as a medium reformer because the reforms are still at an early stage. But given the scale and complexity of the challenge, it will be the most impressive of achievement if the stated policies for private operations and competition can be realized. About ten out of the ECA 27 countries have not yet significantly reformed their railway industries, though two or three of these have plans (but not yet legislation) to do so. Those countries judged as being 'low reformers' are not all poor performers. The business and financial performance of the railways in Ukraine and Azerbaijan, for example, is currently improving although there has been little structural change in the industry. However, some of the railways in this group such as Albania, Macedonia, and Turkey are in dire straits.
  • Publication
    Public and Private Sector Roles in the Supply of Transport Infrastructure and Services : Operational Guidance for World Bank Staff
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2004-05) Amos, Paul
    The transport challenges facing developing countries are many and various. What may be an acceptable policy in one country may be anathema in another for political, geographical or historical reasons. And what may work in one institutional and market environment may not work in another. Bank staff should match solutions to the country context. This Guidance Note provides a framework for Bank Group staff for identifying and assessing the different models for public and private roles in the transport sector. It highlights policy and regulatory issues which are important in judging the suitability of different models; and summarizes the range of instruments available to the Bank Group to support particular models. This Guidance Note does not prescribe fixed solutions. It offers guidance in thinking about the options available and the factors that are important in judging between them.