Publication details

Open access passenger rail services in Central Europe

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Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Research in Transportation Economics
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Economics and Administration

Keywords Open access competition; Open access operations; Central European railways; Railway regulation; Passenger rail
Description Open access passenger rail services have been well established in Central Europe. They have been in operation in Austria on the Vienna–Salzburg line from 2011, in the Czech Republic on the Prague–Ostrava line from 2011, and in Slovakia on the Žilina–Košice line from 2014. These open access entries are all on principal domestic railway lines and have caused major increases in train frequencies. New entrants have introduced many service innovations and utilized aggressive price cuts. As a result, they have been able to win substantial market shares from incumbents. This article compares the impacts of open access entries on the development of railway markets in Central Europe. The comparison covers entry barriers, business models, market developments, and regulatory challenges. The main results are that open access competition has strongly stimulated ridership, but the impact on market revenues has been only moderate due to price reductions. The total costs on the market went up and both newcomers and incumbents are struggling with the profitability of their open access operations. We conclude that open access passenger rail services in Central Europe have led not only to significant benefits for customers but also cost increases and significant regulatory challenges.
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