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Railroad Pricing and Revenue-to-Cost Margins in the Post-Staggers Era

Listed author(s):
  • Ivaldi, Marc
  • McCullough, Gerard

The aim of this paper is to look more carefully at the structure of rail rates that has evolved in the 25-year period since the Staggers Rail Act and to assess its impact on the railroad industry. The paper does this by investigating the relationship between car-type-specific marginal costs and car-type-specific rates. These define a set of Lerner indices that are the traditional economic measure of pricing behavior. Taken individually, the Lerner indices are a measure of the market conditions that railroads confront in commodity-specific markets. Taken together in combination with aggregate output measures, the Lerner indices help to determine whether railroad revenues are adequate to cover rail costs. Comparing the ratio of total annual revenues received by each Class I railroad to total (econometrically) estimated costs, we find that this ratio has averaged less than 1.06 in the 23-year period between 1981 and 2004.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research in Transportation Economics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 153-178

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Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:20:y:2007:i:1:p:153-178
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  1. McFadden, Daniel, 1978. "Cost, Revenue, and Profit Functions," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters,in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 1, chapter 1 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  2. Ernst Berndt & Ann Friedlaender & Judy Chiang & Christopher Vellturo, 1993. "Cost effects of mergers and deregulation in the U.S. Rail industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 127-144, June.
  3. Wilson, Wesley W, 1997. "Cost Savings and Productivity in the Railroad Industry," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 21-40, January.
  4. Scott E. Atkinson & Joe Kerkvliet, 1986. "Measuring the Multilateral Allocation of Rents: Wyoming Low-Sulfur Coal," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 416-430, Autumn.
  5. Ivaldi, M & McCullough, G J, 2001. "Density and Integration Effects on Class I U.S. Freight Railroads," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 161-182, March.
  6. Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
  7. Ann F. Friedlaender, 1992. "Coal Rates and Revenue Adequacy in a Quasi-Regulated Rail Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(3), pages 376-394, Autumn.
  8. Pittman Russell, 2005. "Structural Separation to Create Competition? The Case of Freight Railways," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(3), pages 1-16, September.
  9. Braeutigam, Ronald R & Daughety, Andrew F & Turnquist, Mark A, 1982. "The Estimation of a Hybrid Cost Function for a Railroad Firm," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 394-404, August.
  10. Zvi Griliches, 1972. "Cost Allocation in Railroad Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 3(1), pages 26-41, Spring.
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