Transport Papers

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  • 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
    Results of Railway Privatization in Australia and New Zealand
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-09) Williams, Robert; Greig, David; Wallis, Ian
    This paper has been prepared for the World Bank as one of a series of research papers focusing on rail privatization experience throughout the world. The scope of this paper covers rail privatization experience in Australia and New Zealand, much of which occurred over the ten year period from 1993 to 2003. Overall the rail freight privatization experience in Australia and New Zealand, taken in concert with other market and structural reforms, has been positive, although not uniformly so: In Australia, the largely privatized rail freight industry is markedly stronger today than at any time over the last few decades and is competing aggressively for a greater role in the national transport and logistics market; and In New Zealand, the initial success of privatization with increased rail traffic and increased profits has not been sustained: the government has been obliged to take back the network and to commit significant public funds to address deficiencies in the network assets.
  • Publication
    Results of Railway Privatization in Latin America
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-09) Sharp, Richard
    This paper reviews the performance of railway concessions in Latin America over the period extending from the initial Argentina concessions in 1991-1993 through 2004. The bulk of the concessioning processes described herein were supported by the World Bank. Now over a decade since rail concessioning in Latin America began, the overall assessment of its results is positive, particularly for freight railways. Railway traffic volumes have climbed, with some improvements in surface transport market share. Although numerous data problems exist, measures of productive efficiency almost uniformly show post-concession improvements in cargo transport. Effects on rail rates and service levels have generally received positive reviews. Evidence is less extensive for passenger services, mostly because concessioning was largely limited to commuter services in Argentina and Brazil and because such concessions must be evaluated in terms of complex subsidy and regulated pricing regimes, rather than as market-based private enterprises. Railway concessions have not revived uneconomic intercity passenger services, nor has there been much effort to do so. iii. While concessioning brought impressive improvements in labor productivity and other efficiency measures, results have been not quite as dramatic as they are sometimes portrayed. This is in part because the initial concessions took place in the volatile Argentina economy, where a precipitous decline in the rail sector just prior to concessioning was followed by a dramatic post-concession revival. Elsewhere the decline in the rail sector was not as severe as in Argentina, nor was the recovery so rapid.
  • 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
    Results of Railway Privatization in Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-01) Bullock, Richard
    This review is designed to assist the development community and policy makers in other countries who may be contemplating railway privatization. The report is principally concerned with the results of privatization rather than the processes or detailed concession structures, which have varied from country to country depending on diverse local circumstances. This report is concerned with the results of the African concessions. The report contains three main sections: (i) A summary of the background to railway development in sub-Saharan Africa to the start of the 1990's, together with a list of the railway privatizations and concessions undertaken over the last 10 years and a brief description of the main concessionaires; (ii) A more detailed presentation of the thirteen concessions, particularly the three which have been operating the longest ; (iii) An assessment of the overall results of railway privatization/concessioning.
  • Publication
    Privatizing British Railways : Are There Lessons for the World Bank and its Borrowers?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2004-09) Thompson, Louis S.
    The privatization of British Railways (BR) has been deeply controversial. Having concluded that the old BR had run out of financial and managerial steam, the Conservative Government of John Major embarked in 1992 on a radical reform program involving the breakup of the formerly unitary system into over a hundred parts and their subsequent privatization. The Bank's railway borrowers often react to the British experience (and the similar policies in the European Union requiring infrastructure separation) by arguing either that the situation in the U.K. was so particular that it has little application anywhere else, or by asserting that the U.K experience was a "failure" and should be ignored: this report argues that neither assertion is true. Though the assertions are convenient, governments cannot ignore their railways for all the reasons outlined in a long series of World Bank reports on railway restructuring. Aside from the sheer financial and economic burden of an inefficient railway, the non-market benefits of rail services in urban transport, in relieving highway congestion and pollution management, and in accident reduction, mandate government intervention if they are to be maximized. Accepting the specifics of the U.K. conditions, and with the acknowledged benefit of hindsight, this report aims to draw some useful conclusions. In short, both restructuring and private sector involvement remain viable options; but, neither is a panacea and implementing either requires care.