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Productivity Growth in European Railways: Technological Progress,Efficiency Change and Scale Effects


  • Heike Wetzel

    () (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)


This paper analyzes the performance of the European railway sector in the period of deregulation (1990-2005). Using a stochastic frontier panel data model that controls for unobserved heterogeneity a multiple-output multiple input distance function model is estimated in order to evaluate the sources of productivity growth: technological progress, technical efficiency change and scale effects. The results indicate that technology improvements were by far the most important driver of productivity growth, followed by gains in technical efficiency, and to a lesser extent by exploitation of scale economies. Overall, we find an average productivity growth of 39 per cent within the sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • Heike Wetzel, 2008. "Productivity Growth in European Railways: Technological Progress,Efficiency Change and Scale Effects," Working Paper Series in Economics 101, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:101

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    1. Gathon, H. -J. & Pestieau, P., 1995. "Decomposing efficiency into its managerial and its regulatory components: The case of European railways," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 500-507, February.
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    6. Pedro Cantos & José Pastor & Lorenzo Serrano, 1999. "Productivity, efficiency and technical change in the European railways: A non-parametric approach," Transportation, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 337-357, November.
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    8. Tim Coelli & Sergio Perelman, 2000. "Technical efficiency of European railways: a distance function approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(15), pages 1967-1976.
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    10. David Saal & David Parker & Tom Weyman-Jones, 2007. "Determining the contribution of technical change, efficiency change and scale change to productivity growth in the privatized English and Welsh water and sewerage industry: 1985–2000," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 127-139, October.
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    12. Mehdi Farsi & Massimo Filippini & William Greene, 2005. "Efficiency Measurement in Network Industries: Application to the Swiss Railway Companies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 69-90, July.
    13. Luis Orea, 2002. "Parametric Decomposition of a Generalized Malmquist Productivity Index," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 5-22, July.
    14. Coelli, Tim & Perelman, Sergio, 1999. "A comparison of parametric and non-parametric distance functions: With application to European railways," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 326-339, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kellermann, Magnus A., 2015. "Total Factor Productivity Decomposition and Unobserved Heterogeneity in Stochastic Frontier Models," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 44(1), April.

    More about this item


    European railways; Deregulation; Stochastic frontier analysis; Total factor productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation

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