Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy

  • Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Chris Nash

Transport economics and policy analysis is a field which has seen major advances in methodology in recent decades, covering issues such as estimating cost functions, modelling of demand, dealing with externalities, examining industry ownership and structure, pricing and investment decisions and measuring economic impacts. This Handbook contains reviews of all these methods, with an emphasis on practical applications, commissioned from an international cast of experts in the field.
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Chapter 17: Rail

Chris Nash

Extract

Fifty years ago the usual pattern of provision of rail services was to have a single state-owned company responsible for infrastructure, passenger and freight services. Often this was run essentially as a government department. The major exception to this rule was North America, where the US still had a number of privately owned vertically integrated rail companies while Canada had one. In both these cases, there remained strict regulation. The first major change to this situation was the formation of Amtrak in 1971 as a government-owned passenger operator running over the tracks of the freight companies in the US (Winston, 2006). Passenger services had been becoming steadily more unprofitable in the US for many years, and this measure relieved the private railways of the financial burden of operating them. Even more dramatic than this in its impact was the Staggers Act of 1980, which largely removed controls on freight rates and on abandonment of unprofitable routes in the US. Similar developments followed in Canada, and the Canadian government-owned freight railway, Canadian National, was privatised.

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