Stuck on the tracks? : empirical study for investments in the Dutch Railway infrastructure

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Abstract

In recent years, concerns have been expressed in the Netherlands about investments in ‘public’ infrastructures such as energy, public transport, the water supply and telecommunications. In order to satisfy the public’s ever-changing concerns about demand, environmental goals, etc. some of these infrastructures may require large-scale investment. Over the past decades, many of these infrastructure sectors have been confronted with new regulatory models, liberalisation and privatisation. Although these developments possibly helped to improve cost-effectiveness, they could now be hindering the ability of infrastructure managers to meet the demand for investments. The (shareholder’s) demand for profitability might not match the public desire to invest in capacity, quality, new services, or more environmentally friendly systems. In addition to the issue of investment, similar questions have been raised about performance, innovation, and other features related to governance structure. This paper focuses on the Dutch railway infrastructure, and aims to answer the questions of whether investments in infrastructure involving large adaptations or upgrades are desirable (seen from the public perspective) and if the railway sector in its current state is able to make such investments. As the Dutch railway sector has not had to face privatisation and only limited liberalisation, it is interesting to compare it with sectors where such developments have had a larger impact. The performance of the railways is always a highly topical subject in the media and in the political arena. At first glance, the Dutch railway sector would seem to be challenged by the desire of politicians and the public to become involved in large investment projects, such as a new European safety system and improved power supply for trains. On the other hand, earlier large investments such as the ‘Betuwelijn’ freight connection from Rotterdam harbour to Germany, later faced criticism that it was too expensive and unnecessary. The high-speed train line between Amsterdam and Belgium has also been criticised for delays and mounting costs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew perspectives on investment in infrastructures
EditorsG. Arts, W. Dicke, L. Hancher
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Pages15-43
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)978-90-5356-608-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameWRR Verkenningen
Volume19

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