The Reform of the Railway Sector and its Achievements

In the last three decades, state-owned railways have been reformed in many countries. The Japanese National Railways (JNR) was the first railway system to be divided and corporatized in 1987. In the following year, the Swedish State Railways (SJ) was reformed by introducing vertical separation, and this case had much influence on the stipulation of wider EU railway policies. Although the EU railway policies were stipulated based on regional context specificities, these policies and their results have been discussed even in some non-EU countries and have tended to have large impacts on the railway sector of those countries. Nevertheless, there are several other countries where the railways were reformed by different models and could improve the performance by certain measures such as inviting private investments, avoiding cross-subsidies among different divisions, liberalising the management of railways, and introducing intra-modal competition by an appropriate means. 

The railway sector is required to compete with other modes of transport, especially roads to attain environmental regions. When it comes to railway reform, it is essential for policy makers and experts to learn lessons from other countries’ experiences. Based on the background given, this issue aims to understand the lessons from past railway reforms which the sector has experienced under different circumstances. Specifically, besides railway reforms in Europe with a focus on the UK, the issue discusses railway reforms in four other countries: Japan, USA, Russia, and Mexico. 

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