The evolution of U.S. rail freight pricing in the post-deregulation era: revenues versus marginal costs for five commodity types
There have now been over three decades of experience with rate-making freedom for all modes of intercity freight transport in the United States. Most evidence suggests that regulatory change has been beneficial for the rail industry and its users. Despite evidence of positive impacts of regulatory reform of U.S. freight transport, there is limited evidence related to long-term pricing trends by commodity in the deregulated era. Moreover, U.S. shipper groups have called for increased regulation of U.S. railroads, citing increased rates and profits, and monopoly pricing to “captive shippers.” This study estimates U.S. railroad revenue-marginal cost ratios for seven different commodities between 1986 and 2008. Interestingly, we find no significant increase in revenue-cost margins for commodities thought to be “most captive” (coal and chemicals), while finding large increases for some commodities thought to be “non-captive.” These results may provide insight into the impacts of regulatory reform in other countries, where there are similar concerns of equitable pricing and financial viability. They suggest that a move toward a more market-based pricing system can enhance railroad viability without harming those with fewer transport options. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
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Volume (Year): 41 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
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