Deregulating the Norwegian railway: a survey of empirical experiences abroad
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- Master Thesis 
Portraying implications of deregulation, this thesis presents an extensive review of deregulation in the European railway. It targets various decision variables concerning the introduction of competitive tendering in the rail industry. This thesis attempts to take a pragmatic stand offering an improved understanding vis-à-vis on decisions that have yet to be made, concentrating on possible competition forms, auction designs and contract designs. It offers learning points and trade-offs that can help improve decision-making. One key learning point is that the introduction of competitive tendering has typically increased efficiency. However, this is made more problematic if the operating companies are obliged to take over staff at current wages and conditions. Issues concerning opportunistic behaviour and the winner’s curse appear to be present in many competitive tendering of rail franchises in Europe. Government’s willingness to renegotiate contracts increases the propensity of opportunistic behaviour. Furthermore, the risk of the winner’s curse is higher in initial rounds. Available information empowers sound assumptions, which can reduce this risk. Auctions are commonly used together with elements resembling Beauty Contests. As Beauty Contests are politically controversial and can lead to a less efficient supplier winning the franchise, the criteria and their weighting should be specified and made available to all potential bidders. A final key finding in this thesis is that management contracts are harmful for efficiency. Certain decisions represent trade-offs, where the regulator does best by evaluating the options based on the primary objectives he want to accomplish. Competition in the market can be used supplementary to competitive tendering, but it may come at the price of higher unit costs for each operator. The chance of the winner’s curse is reduced by allowing firms to observe each other’s behaviour; however, this increases the chances of collusion between the firms. The number of criteria specified before an auction need to be evaluated against ensuring an acceptable standard on the one hand, and on the other, avoid micro-management. Net contracts encourage mostly improved commercial effort, whereas gross contracts result in improved productive effort. Contract duration need to be balanced between desires to keep costs low, competition high and encourage investment. Finally, contract size is determined by the want to exploit scale economies on the one hand, and on the other to allow for more competition. The various findings outlined imply that aligned decisions may enable fulfilment of the government’s primary objectives of the deregulation.