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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

TRAN5530M Railway Policy

15 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Andrew Smith

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides students with an international perspective on rail policy, reflecting both theoretical contributions and actual policy practice. The first part of the module introduces the role of rail and rail policy in the context of the wider transport policy landscape, together with the essential understanding of the economics of rail supply (in particular, the problem of natural monopoly and the role of economics of scale and density and rail). Similarities and differences between rail and other network industries are considered. The second part of the module looks in depth at specific rail regulatory and competition policy topics, with examples from around the world. The final part considers the future of rail in the context of changing travel behaviour and needs, and the interaction with innovation across modes.


This module aims to give students an understanding of: firstly, the role of rail within the wider transport policy context; secondly the fundamental features of rail services, industry structure and the underlying supply side economics that underpin the approaches to regulation and competition policy in the sector; thirdly specific approaches to rail regulation, competition, funding and governance; and finally future directions for rail policy. Examples will be provided that represent the different policy challenges around the world.

Learning outcomes
1. Understand the role of rail within the wider policy landscape
2. Understand the economics of rail and its funding; as well as its similarities and differences from the other modes and other network industries.
3. Justify and critique different approaches to competition and regulatory policy to solve market failure problems in rail.
4. Understand the interaction between different parts of the government and different parts of the rail value chain in ensuring delivery of rail services.
5. Interpret and critically evaluate empirical studies in the field to understand what works and why.
6. Relate theoretical approaches to policy in practice

Skills outcomes
Coursework writing


1. The role of rail (international)
2. Rail supply and funding
3. Rail and economic development
4. Rail structure, governance and regulation
5. Structure of charges for access to rail infrastucture
6. Approaches to rail competition - tendering, contacts, and open-access
7. The future of rail

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours130.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback will be given on the first assessment to help with the final assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report1500 word individual report33.00
Report3000 word individual report67.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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