European railway deregulation: an overview of market organization and capacity allocation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - rail, operations - capacity, organisation - regulation, organisation - competition, planning - surveys


Railway deregulation, vertical separation, competition, capacity allocation, access charges


European railways have been reorganized to allow for market competition. Thus, train services have been vertically separated from infrastructure management which allows several operators to compete. Different ways have emerged for vertical separation, capacity allocation and track access charges. This paper reviews important deregulation aspects from a number of European countries. The study compares how competition has been introduced and regulated with focus on describing capacity allocation and track access charges. Although guided by the same European legislation, we conclude that the studied railways have different deregulation outcomes, e.g. market organization, capacity allocation. Besides, few countries have so far managed to have efficient and transparent capacity allocation. Although allowed by the legislation, market-based allocation is absent or never used. To foster more competition which can yield substantial social benefits, the survey indicates that most European railways still need to develop and experiment with more efficient and transparent capacity allocation procedures.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.