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Rail Privatization and Competitive Tendering in Europe

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During the past two decades the European railway sector has experienced a number of changes and reforms aimed at increasing competition and private sector involvement. Sweden's vertical separation of infrastructure from operations in 1988 was an early initiative, also influencing EU-wide policies demanding separate accounts or full separation. In the mid 1990s Great Britain transformed its entire railway industry by means of privatization and franchising. No other EU country has gone this far in terms of rail privatization, but franchising and competitive tendering of passenger rail services have become important elements in several other countries. In the wake of this development, we have seen an increase of both new and old operators becoming international players. In this article, these reforms are studied and discussed in some detail, drawing from the experience of franchising and competitive tendering in several European countries. The theoretical rationale as well as other reasons behind privatization and competitive tendering are discussed. The article also includes some overall conclusions regarding the (positive and negative) effects of the reforms.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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