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Implementation of EU legislation on rail liberalisation in Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands

  • Xavier Deville


    (National Bank of Belgium, Microeconomic Information Department)

  • Fabienne Verduyn


    (National Bank of Belgium, Microeconomic Information Department)

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    This study provides a detailed and easy-to read overview of the railway liberalisation in Belgium and the three neighbouring countries. The European Union's liberalisation Directives are often complex and are implemented in very specific ways in the different Member States. The analysis goes into some detail about the Commission's underlying motives and economic theories for letting network industries, which had previously been regarded as natural monopolies, convert into competitive enterprises with the separation of infrastructure from operations. The study takes a look at the impact of the European rail liberalisation Directives in Belgium and its neighbouring countries - France, Germany and the Netherlands. There are considerable variations in the way in which the Directives are applied. It is reflected in the way in which the separation of the infrastructure and the transport services within the railway companies was carried out, and in the degree of opening of the market in freight and passenger transport. The analysis shows that the dominance of the former monopolists in the different Member States means that private rail operators face major obstacles. The financial analysis of the railway companies reveals wide variations in economic performance. The combination of better balance sheet figures and a bigger domestic market means that some major players in Europe are financially better off, giving them superiority over the smaller railway companies. This raises the question whether these circumstances will ultimately lead to distortion of competition.

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    Paper provided by National Bank of Belgium in its series Working Paper Document with number 221.

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    Length: 160 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nbb:docwpp:201203-14
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