The liberalisation of European railway markets : laissez faire versus interventionism : a comparative analysis of the approaches to railway privatisation in the United Kingdom and Germany
This thesis comprises railway innovation in the 19th century, railway regulation, recent railway reforms across Europe and a theoretical analysis. The historical study is complemented by an investigation of the rationale for extensive regulations and eventual nationalisation of railway systems. The nationalisation schemes granted exclusive rights to public undertakings to provide a public railway and sometimes more extensive transport services. Notwithstanding subsidies and a protectionist railway policy, the railways could not compete successfully with other modes of transport; the railway industry's market share steadily declined across the European Community. As a result the European Community passed legislation to reverse the deteriorating trend. This legislation and its national interpretations are evaluated before proceeding to brief case studies of the railway liberalisation undertaken in France, the Netherlands and Sweden; the German and British approaches to railway reform are then analysed in greater detail. Arguing that liberalisation was often a watered down version of privatisation schemes that had been compromised in the political process, the thesis develops an alternative model of privatisation, centred on a concept of market-based integration and a competitive railway market. It is proposed that the current crisis on the British railways and the slow progress of railways in other countries could be resolved by means of this concept.