Efficiency among private railway companies in a weakly regulated system: the case of Britain's railways in 1893-1912
This paper uses a stochastic cost frontier model to investigate the efficiency of Britain’s private railways during the period 1893-1912. We find that there was substantial inefficiency in the industry with no sign of reduction over time. Our main conclusion is that principal agent problems were pervasive in railway management at this time. Our results suggest that private ownership per se is not sufficient to promote efficiency in the railway industry; it should be supported by competition for franchises and price-capping regulation as in the 1990s.
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