Evaluation of Iran Rail Freight Transportation Efficiency in Comparison between the World Countries and the Middle East and Central Asia

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Transportation Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Transportation Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran


The study of various countries rail transportation indicators is an appropriate criterion for evaluating the existing performance of Iranian railways. The experiences of other countries can be used to improve the efficiency of Iran’s rail transportation. At the beginning of the study, in order to compare the Iranian railway performance with railways of other countries, various efficiency indicators have been defined. The comparison based on data from the International Union of Railways members in 2012. The Iranian railway performance indicators comparison with other countries around the world and in the Middle East and Central Asia show that the main priorities to meet the needs of Iran’s rail freight transportation are increasing the number of the locomotives, developing railway lines and increase efficiency of fleet. In order to evaluate the efficiency of each of the areas listed above, nonparametric method of data envelopment analysis DEA (modified Output-oriented BCC) has been used. Based on the obtained results, the Iranian railway rank is 23 among 66 countries of the world with efficiency of 51 percent and its rank is 9 among 14 countries of the Middle East and Central Asia with efficiency of 55 percent. The efficiency of Iran railway wagons is low and the annual ton-km can be increased from 22604 to 41136. At the end of the study, time series performance index of countries from 2000 to 2012 were studied. And over these years, Iran has always had a constant downward trend with efficiency of 30 percent. 


-  Banker, R. D., Charnes, A. and Cooper, W. W. (1984) "Some models for estimating technical and scale inefficiencies in data envelopment analysis", Management Science, Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1078-1092

-  Bhanot, N. and Singh, H. (2014) "Benchmarking the performance indicators of Indian Railway container business using data envelopment analysis", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 101-120

-  Cantos, P., Pastor, J., Serrano, L. (1999) " Productivity, efficiency and technical change in the European railways: a non-parametric approach", Transportation, Vol. 26, pp. 337–357

-  Chapin, A. and Schmidt, S. (1999) "Do mergers improve efficiency? Evidence from deregulated rail freight", Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, pp. 147-162.‏

-  Charnes, A., Cooper, W.W. and Rhodes, E. (1979) "Measuring the efficiency of decision-making units", European Journal Of Operational Research, Vol. 3, No. 4, p.339.

-  Christopoulos, D., Loizides, J. and Tsionnas, G. (2001) "Efficiency in European railways: not as inefficient as one might think", Journal of Applied Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 63-88

-  Cowie, J. (1999) "The technical efficiency of public and private ownership in the rail industry: the case of Swiss private railways". Journal of transport economics and policy, pp.241-251.

-  Estache, A., Gonzalez, M. and Trujillo, L. (2002) "What does privatization do for efficiency? Evidence from Argentina’s and Brazil’s railways", World Development, Vol. 30, No. 11, pp. 188-97

-  Hilmola, O. P. (2007) "European railway freight transportation and adaptation to demand decline: Efficiency and partial productivity analysis from period of 1980-2003", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp.205-225.

-  Hilmola, O. P. (2010) "Efficiency of public passenger transport by rail in larger cities: European biased perspective", International Journal of Services and Standards, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp.256-270.

-  Isfahan University of Technology. Center for Transportation Research (2013) "Analysis of the demand for freight transport and the capacity of the main axes of the railway network in the country", Consulting project report, the first phase, Training and Research Center of the Railways

-  Jitsuzumi, T. and Nakamura, A. (2010) "Causes of inefficiency in Japanese railways: Application of DEA for managers and policymakers", Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp.161-173.

-  Jordan Annual report (2011) Aqaba Railway Corporation, Jordan / Ma'an,

-  Kennedy, J. and Smith, A. S. (2004) "Assessing the efficient cost of sustaining Britain's rail network: Perspectives based on zonal comparisons", Journal of Transport Economics and Policy (JTEP), Vol. 38, No. 2, pp.157-190.

-  Kim, H., Choi, C., Woo, J., Choi, Y., Kim, K. and Wu, D. (2011) "Efficiency of the modal shift and environmental policy on the Korean railroad", Stoch. Environ. Res. Risk Assess. Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 91–97

-  Kutlar, A., Kabasakal, A. and Sarikaya, M. (2013) "Determination of the efficiency of the world railway companies by method of DEA and comparison of their efficiency by Tobit analysis", Quality and Quantity, Vol. 47, No. 6, pp.3575-3602.

-  Merkert, R., Smith, A. S. and Nash, C.A. (2010) "Benchmarking of train operating firms–a transaction cost efficiency analysis", Transportation Planning and Technology, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.35-53.

-  Movahedi, M. M., Abtahi, S.Y. and Motamedi, M. (2011) "Iran railway efficiency analysis, using DEA: an international comparison", International Journal of Applied Operational Research-An Open Access Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.1-7.

-  Oum, T.H., Pathomsiri, S. and Yoshida, Y. (2013) "Limitations of DEA-based approach and alternative methods in the measurement and comparison of social efficiency across firms in different transport modes: An empirical study in Japan", Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Vol. 57, pp.16-26.

-  Rayeni, M.M. and Saljooghi, F.H. (2014) "Ranking and measuring efficiency using secondary goals of cross-efficiency evaluation–a study of railway efficiency in Iran", International Journal of Services and Operations Management, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.1-16.

-  Sink, D. (1985) "Productivity Management", John Willy and Sons, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 7-22,

-  Tahir, N. (2013), "Efficiency analysis of Pakistan Railway in comparison with China and India", International Journal of Transport Economics, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 71-98.

-  Teng, Y, Feng, F-L. and Zhang, J. (2010) "Assessment of China railway logistics performance based on DEA". Journal of Railway Science and Engineering, Vol. 5, p. 023

-  Yu, M. and Lin, E. (2008)., "Efficiency and effectiveness in railway performance using a multi-activity network DEA model", Omega, Vol. 36, pp. 1005–1017.

-  Yu, M. M. (2008), "Assessing the technical efficiency, service effectiveness, and technical effectiveness of the world’s railways through NDEA analysis", Transportation Research Part A-Policy and Practice, Vol. 42, pp. 1283–1294.

-  http://www.uic.org/IMG/xls/synopsis_2012-2000_in_xls (Statistical Yearbook from 2000 to 2012)

-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Railways and Iraqi_Republic_Railways

-  https://enr.gov.eg/ticketing/public

-  https://www.saudirailways.org/portal/page/portal/PRTS/root/Home/01_About_Us/07Statistics