Estimating the marginal cost of railway track renewals using corner solution models
Economic theory advocates marginal cost pricing for efficient utilisation of transport infrastructure. A growing body of literature has emerged on the issue of rail marginal infrastructure wear and tear costs, but the majority of the work is focused on costs for infrastructure maintenance. Railway track renewals are a substantial part of an infrastructure manager’s budget, but in disaggregated statistical analyses they cause problems for traditional regression models since there is a piling up of values of the dependent variable at zero. Previous econometric work has sought to circumvent the problem by aggregation in some way. In this paper we instead apply corner solution models to disaggregate (track-section) data, including the zero observations. We derive track renewal cost elasticities with respect to traffic volumes and in turn marginal renewal costs using Swedish railway renewal data over the period 1999–2009. This paper is the first attempt in the literature to apply corner solution models, and in particular the two-part model, to disaggregate renewal cost data in railways. It is also the first paper that we are aware of to report usage elasticities specifically for renewal costs and therefore adds important new evidence to the previous literature where there is a paucity of studies on renewals and considerable uncertainty over the effects of rail traffic on renewal costs. In the Swedish context, we find that the inclusion of marginal track renewal costs in the track access pricing regime, which currently only reflects marginal maintenance costs, would add substantially to the existing track access charge. EU legislation requires that access charges reflect the ‘costs directly incurred as a result of operating the train service’, which should include a marginal renewal cost component. This change would also increase the cost recovery ratio of the Swedish infrastructure manager, thus meeting a policy objective of the national government.
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Volume (Year): 46 (2012)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
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