Rail Economics, Policy and Regulation in Europe
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Rail Economics, Policy and Regulation in Europe

Edited by Matthias Finger and Pierre Messulam

The European railway sector has undergone profound and predominantly institutional changes over the past 20 years, due to the initiatives of the European Commission. This book constitutes a first systematic assessment and account of the recent transformations of the industry along a series of critical yet contentious issues such as competition, unbundling, regulation, access charging, standards and interoperability, and public–private partnerships. It also covers the main railways sectors including passenger transport, high speed and freight.
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Chapter 11: Public–private partnerships in the rail sector

Julien Dehornoy


Over the past 25 years, 27 public–private partnerships (PPPs) have been awarded in the rail sector. However, rail PPPs are controversial. Some argue that they make it possible to fund and build projects that would otherwise have been impossible to launch, or that they foster innovative systems, while others think that PPPs are a way to bypass budget constraints that ultimately cost more for the taxpayer. The objective of this chapter is to conduct the first comprehensive review of all PPPs in heavy rail in order to reach conclusions on the conditions of success of rail PPPs, based on quantitative evidence. More precisely, we will focus on three specific questions: What are the common features and differences among rail PPPs, and how did they evolve in the last two decades? What are the specific features of rail PPPs compared to other PPPs? Why do so many PPPs fail and need public support, especially among traffic-based concessions? In this chapter, we restrict our analysis to PPPs in the rail sector that include significant investment by concessionaires. We thus exclude other modes of public transportation, such as light rail, metro and people movers, as well as a wide variety of other kinds of public–private arrangements such as operating concessions, divestitures, joint ventures, private infrastructure, etc.

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