Chapter 5 Rail benchmarking
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Benchmarking could be expected to have in important role in the rail sector. Infrastructure managers are natural monopolies, and whilst the market for both passenger and freight operation is now open for competition, the incumbent often remains dominant. However, the use of benchmarking remains relatively rare. The only regulator known to use the technique is the British regulator, whilst because of data availability most studies of rail operating companies also are of Britain. These studies are described, showing their use, for instance in examining the extent of economies of scale, density and scope, in design of franchises. By contrast, there are many studies benchmarking rail systems as a whole, using panel data from countries across Europe for a certain period of time. These studies encounter many problems in terms of comparability of data and heterogeneity, but do shed light on issues such as the impact of the degree of competition, vertical separation and regulation on rail costs.

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