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Analysing the future of railway freight competition: a Delphi study in Finland

Miika Mäkitalo (Rail Transport Director in the Rail Transport Department, Finnish Transport Agency, Helsinki, Finland)
Olli‐Pekka Hilmola (Professor at the Lappeenranta University of Technology, Kouvola, Finland)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 17 October 2010




The entire sector of railway transport is in a state of flux in Europe as deregulation and structural changes are affecting the traditional transport mode. Even though the aim has been to increase railway freight competition, markets have changed only slightly, and the market shares of incumbent railway companies are remaining high. Some EU countries have not attracted any new entrants, which is also the current situation in Finland. This paper aims to assess how the Finnish railway freight competition develops and to analyze different views on railway transport policy.


This research work analyses a Delphi questionnaire directed at 52 Finnish experts in this branch. Responses on the questionnaire were gathered during year 2005 (competition in Finland in railway freight started 2007) within two rounds with appropriate amount of response rate. Respondents were from the public and private sectors, actors working closely with railway transports and logistics. With an expert profiling matrix, three different railway transport policy viewpoint groups are identified, and character descriptions for these are constructed.


Based on a qualitative expert profiling analysis, it is argued that there exist three different argument types in Finnish railway transport policy. The authors have constructed character descriptions for each group based on material collected by the Delphi technique. They conclude that the policy definitions have followed the views of the moderate group and the realization of the deregulation process has been slow, even though a great amount of competition was expected.

Research limitations/implications

The research work is limited to the Finnish railway freight transport market, where development of competition on rails has been sluggish. To further confirm the used methodology, and the identified railway freight competition policy group types, the research work should be repeated in some other country, and particularly in an environment where competition has shown activity immediately after deregulation.


The research represents methodology to foresee the future development of deregulated industries, and especially in the transportation sector. The paper's approach can be used to divide stakeholders into groups and to make policy analysis. The problem with to‐be‐deregulated industry is often lack of competition, new actors and governmental actions, and therefore the used Delphi technique offers potential to gather empirical material before any activity has actually started in the observed industry.



Mäkitalo, M. and Hilmola, O. (2010), "Analysing the future of railway freight competition: a Delphi study in Finland", Foresight, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 20-37.



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