President Hollande of France has welcomed the award of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics to Jean Tirole as being ‘good for France.’ French economist Jean Tirole’s award was for his work on the financial crises, oligopolies and network industries. He is one of the most influential economists of our time; his publications on industrial organisation has clarified the economic policy issues for various sectors on which he had worked, notably the railways.
However, Tirole said in an interview in Sweden after the award on 10 December that France has the worst of all rail systems: ‘competition in theory and monopolisation in practice.’
France is in the process of restructuring its railways. The independent regulator ARAF has added to these comments by expressing a negative opinion on the reform in terms of the risks of non-transparent financial flows between the operator SNCF and the infrastructure manager which give SNCF an unfair advantage over any competition.
Perhaps President Hollande will take Jean Tirole’s advice on restructuring the railways in France, to bring in competition and get rid of the rail monopoly in practice !
Tony Berkeley is chairman of the UK Rail Freight Group and a Board Member of the European Rail Freight Association; these opinions are his own.