A renewed approach to rail infrastructure charges

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail


"The European Commission policy defined that rail infrastructure charges should: be related to costs actually incurred, place incentives for a more efficient use of infrastructure, avoid discrimination of users and allow public authorities to verify compliance with these objectives. Directives 2001/12/EC and 2001/14/EC have set a general framework for setting rail infrastructure charges, however enormous difficulties have arise in the calculation of marginal costs and in the allocation of full costs of the infrastructure use to the different cost drivers. It is vitally important for every IM to understand the link between accounting and charging, requiring the adoption of a business logic that secures that cost drivers are well identified and controllable. In fact, to face future needs the railway infrastructure cost accounting framework should not only deliver important background information for setting charges but also allow cost and revenues comparison by market segments underlying the decision on which services to focus business activities and what are the levels of public funding required to fulfil PSO (Public Service Obligations) agreements in the scope of multi-annual contracts with predefined levels of service. Finally, railway infrastructure cost accounting frameworks should also deliver accurate information for the regulator to ensure equity and fairness in railway market access. The leading principle for the regulator will be to check that the resulting differentiation of track prices is free of discrimination. The combination of Cost Categorisation and Cost Accounting Units represents an essential requirement to understand how much of each cost category may be tied to incremental based charges. This also allows greater flexibility to face more complex approaches to railway cost accounting frameworks that may simultaneously fulfil the management, charging and regulation purposes. In brief, there is the need to have a structured cost accounting scheme which includes capacity costs in terms of life cycle costs of future maintenance, reinvestment and investment activities as well as running costs. The current paper presents the final results of the Railcalc project where an approach to pricing based on forward-looking incremental costs, was developed and proposed."


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.