Technical efficiency of European railways: a distance function approach
This study has two principal objectives. The first objective is to measure and compare the performance of European railways. The second objective is to illustrate the usefulness of econometric distance functions in the analysis of production in multioutput industries, where behavioural assumptions such as cost minimization or profit maximization, are unlikely to be applicable. Using annual data on 17 railways companies during 1988-1993, multioutput distance functions are estimated using corrected ordinary least squares (COLS). The resulting technical efficiency estimates range from 0.980 for the Netherlands to 0.784 for Italy, with a mean of 0.863. The distance function results are also compared with those obtained from single-output production functions, where aggregate output measures are formed using either total revenue or a Tornqvist index. The results obtained indicate substantial differences in parameter estimates and technical efficiency rankings, casting significant doubt upon the reliability of these single-output models, particularly when a total revenue measure is used to proxy aggregate output.