Client: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
Dates: 2011-2015

The Railex project aims at generating the required specific knowledge to properly set environmentally differentiated rail access charges.

The research work has consisted, in the first place, in a comprehensive analysis of the application of environmental rail charges in Europe. We have identified the main difficulties in implementing such systems. These are: uncertainty in the assessment of the environmental costs of the railway, the definition of an optimal level of complexity of the tariff, ensuring efficient and fair intermodal competition and, finally, distributing incentives among different market players in a cost-effective way. These difficulties are the starting point of the research work carried out.

The main contribution of the project has been the development of a systematic methodology for the setting of environmental rail charges. The methodology is based on the Pigouvian framework (first-best) but addressing their practical implementation (second-best), taking into account the market context in which it applies and the implementation and transaction costs of control and management system itself. For this we have developed an analytical formulation allowing to find a tariff level (bonus / malus) in terms of the degree of internalization in other transport modes. Furthermore, we have evaluated the trade-off in the level of differentiation and analysed the impact of the system on the different stakeholders. Based on this analytical approach, a step-by-step methodology for the setting environmental rail charges has been developed.

The developed methodology has been implemented to define air pollution-differentiated rail charges in the Spanish railway system.

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