The Impact of Structural and Contractual Arrangements on a Vertically Separated Railway
The unbundling of railways in Britain has been heavily criticised as undermining the passenger rail system. Economic theory suggests that structural separation and short-lived contracts hinder incentives to invest in relation-specific assets. This paper consitutes an initial investigation of this proposition. It investigates whether the investment pattern of the rail passenger franchisees responds to structural and contractual characteristics using a unique panel of data on the privatised railways in Britain. Its findings suggest that unbundling and competition for franchises combined with commercial objectives can provide strong incentives towards better performance, as is the case for investment behaviour.
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