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Railroad Rates, Profitability, and Welfare Under Deregulation

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  • Richard C. Levin

Abstract

Efforts to reform regulation of the railroad industry are supported by a substantial body of economic research which has described and measured the cost of the present regulatory regime. In focusing on the defects of the status quo, economists have neglected to give sufficient attention to analyzing in detail the likely consequences of alternative regulatory policies, including deregulation. This paper draws on available estimates of the structure of rail demand and technology in an attempt to predict the impact of rate flexibility at rail prices, profitability, and economic welfare. The effects of deregulation are simulated under a variety of alternative assumptions concerning the elasticity of demand for rail services, the degree of interrailroad competition, the presence or absence of truck deregulation, and the magnitude of rail cost reduction attainable with enhanced commercial freedom. The principal object of this exercise is to ascertain whether rate deregulation is likely to restore the rail industry to financial viability by generating a cash flow sufficient to maintain adequately and improve the physical plant and to provide high quality rail service. A corollary aim is to determine whether present or potential railroad market power is sufficiently great to generate excessive increase in profits, prices, and associated static dead-weight losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard C. Levin, 1981. "Railroad Rates, Profitability, and Welfare Under Deregulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:12:y:1981:i:spring:p:1-26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Samet, Dov & Tauman, Yair, 1982. "The Determination of Marginal Cost Prices under a Set of Axioms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 895-909, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kessides, Ioannis N. & Willig, Robert D., 1995. "Restructuring regulation of the rail industry for the public interest," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1506, The World Bank.
    2. Wilson, Wesley W. & Wilson, William W., 2001. "Deregulation, rate incentives, and efficiency in the railroad market," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-24, January.
    3. Behrens, Kristian & Carl Gaigne & Jacques-Francois Thisse, 2006. "Is the regulation of the transport sector always detrimental to consumers?," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-455, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    4. Waters II, William G., 2007. "Evolution of Railroad Economics," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 11-67, January.
    5. Schmidt, Stephen, 2001. "Market structure and market outcomes in deregulated rail freight markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 99-131, January.
    6. Behrens, Kristian & Gaigné, Carl & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2009. "Industry location and welfare when transport costs are endogenous," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 195-208, March.
    7. Munduch, Gerhard & Pfister, Alexander & Sögner, Leopold & Stiassny, Alfred, 2002. "Estimating marginal costs for the Austrian railway system," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 854, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.

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