Estimating the marginal cost of railway track renewals using corner solution models

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Mats Andersson
Andrew Smith
Phillip Wheat

Economic theory advocates marginal cost pricing for efficient utilisation of transport infrastructure. A growing body of literature has emerged on the issue of rail marginal infrastructure wear and tear costs, but the majority of the work is focused on costs for infrastructure maintenance. Railway track renewals are a substantial part of an infrastructure manager’s budget, but in disaggregated statistical analyses they cause problems for traditional regression models since there is a piling up of values of the dependent variable at zero. Previous econometric work has sought to circumvent the problem by aggregation in some way. In this paper we instead apply corner solution models to disaggregate (tracksection) data, including the zero observations. We derive track renewal cost elasticities with respect to traffic volumes and in turn marginal renewal costs using Swedish railway renewal data over the period 1999 to 2009. This paper is the first attempt in the literature to apply corner solution models, and in particular the two-part model, to disaggregate renewal cost data in railways. It is also the first paper that we are aware of to report usage elasticities specifically for renewal costs and therefore adds important new evidence to the previous literature where there is a paucity of studies on renewals and considerable uncertainty over the effects of rail traffic on renewal costs.

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