Over the last 25 years the rail sector in virtually all OECD countries has undergone significant reform. These reforms were usually driven by inefficiency and poor performance within the rail sector and long-term loss of market share to other transport modes. The appropriate role for structural reform in the rail industry depends on the particular form of competition/regulation that is being pursued. Promoting competition within the rail sector through mandated access to the track and associated infrastructure raises many new and important regulatory issues. In a regime of regulated access to the track infrastructure, vertical integration is a key issue. It will often be difficult to control anti-competitive behaviour by the integrated firm. Vertical separation has the potential to enhance the resulting level of competition. Many countries have sought to promote competition for the market in the rail sector. Such competitive tendering may change but not eliminate the need for regulation. Competition enforcement issues vary across jurisdictions based largely on the modes of railway competition that are present. Despite the wide range of experience, the appropriate role of vertical separation in the overall reform of the rail industry is not yet clear. Governance and subsidy mechanisms need further examination. This document comprises proceedings in the original languages of a Roundtable on Competition in the Rail Industry, which was held by Working Party N°2 of the Competition Committee in February 2005.
Structural Reform in the Rail Industry