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Railway Efficiency: An Overview and a Look at Opportunities for Improvement

Dr. Arne Beck, Dr. Heiner Bente and Martin Schilling completed the paper for the International Transport Forum’s (ITF/OECD) Summit in May 2013. Key indicators reveal significant efficiency gaps between railways.

published in: International Transport Forum/OECD Discussion Papers 05/2013

The discussion paper shows that significant differences in railway efficiency exist between railways across the world. Differences in asset utilization, staff productivity, freight rates, and cost/revenue ratios are all key indicators highlighted that further prove this point. Interviews with subject matter experts validated analysis results and provided helpful insights on opportunities for improvement. Regulations and infrastructure constraints, such as regulations that impact freight train length, have a major impact on efficiency. New technologies are also a central driver of railway efficiency. Other key levers of efficiency are discussed in the paper.