IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Causes of inefficiency in Japanese railways: Application of DEA for managers and policymakers


  • Jitsuzumi, Toshiya
  • Nakamura, Akihiro


Although railway services have been suffering financially due to modal shifts and aging populations, they have been, and will continue to be, an essential component of nations' basic social infrastructures. Since railway firms generate positive externalities, and are required to operate in pre-determined licensed areas, governmental intervention/support may, in some cases, be justified. Indeed, many types of subsidies are created and offered for railway operations in Japan; while some are meant to cover large investments, others are used as compensation for regional disparities. However, thus far, no attempt has been made to analyze the reasons for the underperformance of Japanese railway services. In other words, it is unclear whether this underperformance can be attributed to exogenous and uncontrollable causes, or endogenous phenomena and, hence, capable of being handled by managers. The optimal degree of intervention is thus not sufficiently known. In the current paper, we propose a method based on data envelopment analysis (DEA) to analyze the causes of inefficiency in Japanese railway operations, and, further, to calculate optimal subsidy levels. The latter are designed to compensate for railways' lack of complete discretion in changing location of their operations and/or increasing/decreasing these operations since they are a regulated service. Our proposed method was applied to 53 Japanese railway operators. In so doing, we identified several key characteristics related to their inefficiencies, and developed optimal subsidies designed to improve performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Jitsuzumi, Toshiya & Nakamura, Akihiro, 2010. "Causes of inefficiency in Japanese railways: Application of DEA for managers and policymakers," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 161-173, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:44:y:2010:i:3:p:161-173

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitomo, Hitoshi & Jitsuzumi, Toshiya, 1999. "Impact of telecommuting on mass transit congestion: the Tokyo case," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10-11), pages 741-751, November.
    2. Banker, Rajiv D., 1984. "Estimating most productive scale size using data envelopment analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 35-44, July.
    3. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
    4. Fumitoshi Mizutani, 2004. "Privately Owned Railways' Cost Function, Organization Size and Ownership," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 297-322, May.
    5. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    6. Mark Armstrong & Simon Cowan & John Vickers, 1994. "Regulatory Reform: Economic Analysis and British Experience," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510790, January.
    7. Tone, Kaoru & Tsutsui, Miki, 2007. "Decomposition of cost efficiency and its application to Japanese-US electric utility comparisons," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 91-106, June.
    8. Liu, Junming & Tone, Kaoru, 2008. "A multistage method to measure efficiency and its application to Japanese banking industry," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 75-91, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:soceps:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:26-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mallikarjun, Sreekanth & Lewis, Herbert F. & Sexton, Thomas R., 2014. "Operational performance of U.S. public rail transit and implications for public policy," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 74-88.
    3. repec:spr:annopr:v:259:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2190-8 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:44:y:2010:i:3:p:161-173. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.