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

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  • Ivaldi, Marc
  • McCullough, Gerard

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivaldi, Marc & McCullough, Gerard, 2007. "Railroad Pricing and Revenue-to-Cost Margins in the Post-Staggers Era," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 153-178, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:20:y:2007:i:1:p:153-178
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. 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.
    4. Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Wilson, Wesley W, 1997. "Cost Savings and Productivity in the Railroad Industry," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 21-40, January.
    9. 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.
    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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John Bitzan & Theodore Keeler, 2014. "The evolution of U.S. rail freight pricing in the post-deregulation era: revenues versus marginal costs for five commodity types," Transportation, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 305-324, March.
    2. Zhang, Qiong & Yang, Hangjun & Wang, Qiang & Zhang, Anming, 2014. "Market power and its determinants in the Chinese airline industry," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-13.
    3. Zofío, José Luis & Condeço-Melhorado, Ana M. & Maroto-Sánchez, Andrés & Gutiérrez, Javier, 2011. "Decomposing generalized transport costs using index numbers: A geographical analysis of economic and infrastructure fundamentals," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2011/06, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    4. Zofío, Jose L. & Condeço-Melhorado, Ana M. & Maroto-Sánchez, Andrés & Gutiérrez, Javier, 2014. "Generalized transport costs and index numbers: A geographical analysis of economic and infrastructure fundamentals," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 141-157.
    5. Leonardo J. Basso & Sergio R. Jara-Díaz & William G. Waters, 2011. "Cost Functions for Transport Firms," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Transport Economics, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. repec:eee:trapol:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:53-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Waters II, William G., 2007. "Evolution of Railroad Economics," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 11-67, January.

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