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On the modal shift from motorway to high-speed rail: evidence from Italy

Daniel Albalate () and Mattia Borsati ()
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Daniel Albalate: Dept. of Econometrics, Statistics and Applied Economics, University of Barcelona, Spain.
Mattia Borsati: Dept. of Economics and Management, University of Trento, Italy.

No 201910, IREA Working Papers from University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics

Abstract: The development of high-speed rail (HSR) has had a notable impact on modal market shares on the routes on which its services have been implemented. The aim of this study is to analyse whether the HSR expansion in Italy has led to a modal shift from motorway to HSR. We empirically test i) whether HSR openings adjacent to motorway sectors have reduced the total km travelled by light vehicles on these sectors during the period 2001-2017; and ii) whether this reduction has been persistent or even more evident after the opening of on-track competition between two HSR operators. To do so, we carried out a generalized difference-in-differences estimation, using a unique panel dataset that exploits the heterogeneous traffic data within all tolled motorway sectors in a quasi-experimental setting. Our findings reveal that neither HSR openings nor the opening of on-track competition led to a modal shift from motorway to HSR services, as the two transport modes are non-competing. Conversely, both phenomena had a slightly positive impact on motorway traffic. The extent to which HSR demand could be the result of a modal shift from motorways is a relevant issue in any cost-benefit analysis of HSR investments.

Keywords: High-speed rail; Motorways; Inter-modal competition. JEL classification:D78; L92; R41; R58. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-com, nep-tre and nep-ure
Date: 2019-06, Revised 2019-06
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