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Public Budget Contributions to the European Rail Sector

An in Depth Analysis for Eight Countries
  • Jan Thomas Schäfer and Georg Götz ORCID logo EMAIL logo


This paper provides an analysis of the funding structure of the railways in eight European countries. It updates and expands the well-known database on public contributions to rail, which has initially been published by [NERA (2004) Study of the Financing of and Public Budget Contributions to Railways: A Final Report for European Commission, DG TREN. London: NERA National Economic Research Associates.]. The analysis shows that there are large differences concerning the focus of granted funds which can be explained by different policy objectives, differences in the level and degree of network access charges and different cost coverage ratios of public transport services. We identify a tendency towards two main financing models. In our data-set countries either focus their support payments on the operation of the infrastructure, which implies lower network charges and thus a lower amount of necessary Public Service Compensations, or they focus on the support of transport services with a higher degree of cost coverage of network charges and thus a lower amount of operating contributions paid to the infrastructure manager. The structure of funds, different approaches of infrastructure financing and differences in the treatment of historical debt are likely to have an influence on the performance of the investigated railway systems.

JEL Classification: R42; R48; L92; H54

Corresponding author: Georg Götz, Professor, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Giessen, Germany

  1. Funding: Jan Schäfer thanks Deutsche Bahn AG for funding a PhD fellowship.


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Published Online: 2018-04-30
Published in Print: 2017-06-26

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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