Publication: Results of Railway Privatization in Latin America

Thumbnail Image
Files in English
English PDF (1.41 MB)

English Text (156.33 KB)
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.
Link to Data Set
Sharp, Richard. 2005. Results of Railway Privatization in Latin America. Transport Papers series;no. TP-6. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Report Series
Other publications in this report series
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Associated URLs
Associated content