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Changes in transaction costs over time - The case of franchised train operating firms in Britain

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  • Merkert, Rico

Abstract

The significant effects of competition, franchising and vertical separation of rail infrastructure from train operation on the level of transaction costs are often anecdotally described in the literature. Although it has been shown that franchising has an effect on total costs, there is very little empirical evidence on whether franchising has an impact on the level of transaction costs over time. One reason for this is, of course, the limited systematic work on the measurement of transaction costs in railways. This paper builds on recent work that applied a top-down approach to transaction cost measurement to identify the size of the transaction sector within rail firms in different EU countries. In cross-country comparison particularly, British train operators turned out to be associated with high levels of transaction costs. However, since the previous work focused on a single fiscal year it did not show any longitudinal effects within one institutional environment or country. Therefore, this paper focuses on British franchised passenger train operating firms and aims to reveal how the transaction sector within those firms has changed over the period 1996/1997-2007/2008 and whether the franchise contract details, such as contract length or the franchising regime, matter. It also aims to estimate the resulting changes in the level of transaction costs and their share in total operating costs for the first time.

Suggested Citation

  • Merkert, Rico, 2010. "Changes in transaction costs over time - The case of franchised train operating firms in Britain," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 52-59.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:29:y:2010:i:1:p:52-59
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hendrik Dalen & Aico Vuuren, 2005. "Greasing the Wheels of Trade: A Profile of the Dutch Transaction Sector**," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(2), pages 139-165, June.
    2. Yvrande-Billon, Anne & Menard, Claude, 2005. "Institutional constraints and organizational changes: the case of the British rail reform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 675-699, April.
    3. Joskow, Paul L, 1987. "Contract Duration and Relationship-Specific Investments: Empirical Evidence from Coal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 168-185, March.
    4. Wallis, John Joseph & North, Douglass C., 1988. "Should Transaction Costs be Subtracted from Gross National Product?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 651-654, September.
    5. Michael Dietrich, 2003. "The importance of management and transaction costs for large UK firms," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(11), pages 1317-1329.
    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. Williamson, Oliver E., 2005. "Transaction cost economics and business administration," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 19-40, March.
    8. John J. Wallis & Douglass North, 1986. "Measuring the Transaction Sector in the American Economy, 1870-1970," NBER Chapters,in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 95-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Merkert, Rico & Cowie, Jonathan, 2012. "A quantitative cross-modal analysis of transportation firms’ transaction costs – Are airlines any different?," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 3-8.
    2. Filippini, M. & Koller, M. & Masiero, G., 2015. "Competitive tendering versus performance-based negotiation in Swiss public transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 158-168.
    3. Andersson, Matts & Hultén, Staffan, 2016. "Transaction and transition costs during the deregulation of the Swedish Railway market," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 349-357.
    4. Wegelin, Philipp & von Arx, Widar, 2016. "The impact of alternative governance forms of regional public rail transport on transaction costs. Case evidence from Germany and Switzerland," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 133-142.
    5. repec:hal:journl:dumas-00793119 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Merkert, Rico & Hensher, David A., 2013. "Regulation, trust and contractual incentives around transport contracts – Is there anything bus operators can learn from public air service contracts?," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 67-78.

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