Assessing Competition in the European Rail Freight Market: Is There an Oligopoly?

This article considers whether the European rail freight market is experiencing an oligopoly. The authors analyze the companies in competition for the European rail freight market, identifying the main players and evaluating the competition using a static approach through indicators of concentration from the industrial economy like Herfindahl – Hirschman Index (HHI), the four-firm concentration ratio (CR4) and others. The study includes 170 companies, most of which are German (50%), operate at a local level (42%), and were started after 2000 (46%). The authors draw attention to changes in this market in 2007 when companies had to change from a legal monopoly on their own national markets to a competitive environment on the extended market of Europe. The findings show many active operators on the West European market but a moderate level of concentration (considered a “loose oligopoly”), with a risk of dominant position by the German incumbent (DB Schenker). The authors discuss problems with regulations and the persistence of a strong market power from incumbents on their respective national markets. The authors contend that this study offers new insights based on indicators rarely used in the rail freight industry because of lack of data.


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  • Accession Number: 01725051
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 13 2019 5:05PM