Transport Papers

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    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.