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Improving the Quality of Sweden’s Rail Freight Rolling Stock: The use of DEA in Benchmarking and Pricing

Journal article
Authors Kevin Cullinane
Rickard Bergqvist
Sharon Cullinane
Shengda Zhu
Linkai Wang
Published in Benchmarking : An International Journal
Volume 24
Issue 6
Pages 1552-1570
ISSN 1463-5771
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Pages 1552-1570
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1108/BIJ-01-2016...
Keywords rail, performance, tariff, rolling stock, data envelopment analysis, benchmarking
Subject categories Business Administration


The paper provides a theoretical conceptualization of how data envelopment analysis can be applied to rail freight rolling stock in order to develop a tariff for track access charges which is functionally dependent upon the derived relative benchmark values of performance. Design/methodology/approach: It is posited that track access charges should be differentiated to reflect differences in the performance of rolling stock and that this can be achieved purely on the basis of technical and other characteristics. The performance benchmarking of rolling stock is proposed as the basis for formulating and justifying a performance-based tariff structure. Using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), relative index measures of rolling stock performance can be derived, benchmark performance identified and a tariff structure developed. Findings – A workable approach to implementing the concept, utilising existing in-house databases, is found to be feasible and a template for tariff-setting is established. Research limitations/implications – In the absence of access to in-house technical data on rolling stock which is commercially sensitive, no empirical application of the concept is possible. Originality/value – There are many ways to improve the efficiency of a railway system. Many are inherently long-term and involve significant investment. Using Sweden as an example, this paper proposes the more immediate, simpler and cheaper approach of incentivising the use of better rolling stock through appropriate track access charging. Such an approach should reduce the number of problems arising on the rail network and the costs imposed on other rail users, the infrastructure providers and society. Ultimately, the implementation of this approach would support the objective of increasing long-term robustness and reducing disruptions to railways

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