The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) currently administrates a system referred to as quality fees. This is a means for inducing operators to change their behaviour in order to reduce train delays. The purpose of the present project is to discuss the implications of introducing a regress system as a complement or possibly replacement to the current fees. While the current system is based on standardized per-minute fees, a regress system would make it possible for anyone affected by delays caused by someone else to reclaim subsequent costs.
VTI has been commissioned to analyse the preconditions for, and possible consequences of introducing the possibility of regress in the railway industry.
Regress refers to the possibility of anyone that is stricken by financial consequences of train delays caused by someone else, to reclaim these costs. Introducing a system of this nature would not increase costs to the industry but would transfer costs to the culpable party. To the extent that operators and the infrastructure holder adjusts the way in which activities are implemented, the risk for delays may shrink which in the long run may reduce prices and tariffs.
A substantial part of the report is spent on the systems currently in place for registering delays and their consequences. It is demonstrated that the infrastructure holder runs a sophisticated system of this nature. The shortcomings of this system, which includes quality problems with registering the cause of delays and in particular shortcomings with respect to the possibility to register trains that are cancelled an/or rerouted, will most probably have to be rectified irrespective of the presence of a system with regress. The data collection system would then be appropriate also for handling regress. Most delays are small, resulting in limited consequences only for affected parties. The consequences of few major disturbances may however, be substantial, but it has not been feasible to make cost estimates of these costs.
Many delays in Sweden’s railways are due to weather and climate. This includes both occasional winters with heavy snow as well as recurrent problems with slippery rails due to leaves during fall and also trees breaking electricity supply during storms. The quality fee system does not include these disturbances, and it is not obvious how it should be handled by a regress system: While weather is external to all parties in the system, it is reasonable to expect that the consequences of bad weather spells can be dealt with, not least by building appropriate ex ante routine.