The liberalisation of the railways in Europe
It is certainly high time to talk about policy for the railways not only in the Russian Federation but also in Europe, where the railways are vital part of the Community transport sector and need to be promoted and revitalized, especially considering the increasing air-traffic and railroad congestion, the environmental problems, the traffic noise, the accidents and the growing opposition to the unchecked development of the new road infrastructure. Railtrack’s business is supported by state-funded revenues which should be used for the maintenance and renewal of the railway network. In the 1999/2000 Railtrack spent L 1.7 billion on renewing and enhancing the network: the number of broken rails on the network had risen from 756 in 1997/98 to 937 in 1998/99, representing an increase of almost 24%. In the United Kingdom the privatization of the railways followed that of the telecommunications, gas, electricity and water industries: by the end of the 80’s about 8% of Gros National Product had been privatized. In France the reform of the railways started in 1997 on the basis of the “Martinand Report” which gave a pretty devastating picture of French railways: in particular, in 1995 the labor costs exceeded the revenues of the railway commercial activities, the railways traffic diminished grandly and the deficit doubled up from 1994 to 1995. The reform of the railways in Germany started in 1993. The Germans had to change the Constitution which started that the railways are a public body. This way, Deutsche Bundesbahn, which had incorporated Deutsche Reichsbahn, could be transformed into a joint-stock company (initially owned by the State) and be privatized. The necessity of a railway’s reform in Holland was pointed out in 1992 by the “Wijffels Commission” which underlined the importance of a clear separation between the responsibility of the State and the commercial business of railway enterprises, in orde to fight against the fall of the railway traffic, especially for the passengers. Also in Italy in witnessing nowadays one of the most significant changing in its economic history: privatization. The reasons for privatization are basically to make enterprises work according to economic and efficient criteria, to reduce public debt and to promote competition, essential in the European market. There is a general consensus in Europe that the railway is an important transport mode and definitely part of the future. Unfortunately, we have to pay the consequences of the poor performance of the railways. In addition, there should be a more critical approach to the studying of the economic, political, sociological, and technical aspect of the public administration of transport. This can be achieved by the “administrative science”, which, being a political science, can play a leading role in the outlining of the preconditions required for the integration of the railway transport into the new global transport market.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Francesca Trampus, "The liberalisation of the railways in Europe", in: Trasporti. Diritto, economia, politica, 82 (2000), pp. 156-186.