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Social Support for European Rail Liberalization Policy


Despite many unmet welfare needs a survey of 2,429 citizens from 10 European Union countries revealed strong support for European freight railways as a means to reduce socioenvironmental harms of motorized transportation, even if this would diminish funds for national necessities. The results disclosed that popular support for European railways was best explained by (1) respondents’ belief in railways’ ability to reduce truck-induced damage in their local and national communities, (2) the fear of future deterioration of socioenvironmental harms, and (3) strong identification with Europe. However, the willingness to spend national money on European railways was not based on social altruism, but rather on enlightened self-interests understood as a temporal renunciation of other welfare needs for protecting the local and national communities from freight truck transport. These outcomes support the national and European policymakers in spending public means on European railways even if many other domestic necessities remain temporary unmet.

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