Tony Lodge is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and a Committee Member of the Conservative Transport Group. His pamphlet, Rail's second chance - putting competition back on track is published by the CPS. A short animation accompanying the pamphlet can be seen above.
The announcement of new rail franchising competitions this week is welcome. But whilst providing a competitive bid process for the award of new franchises, it will be vitally important that the Government moves to guarantee that these franchises should face more on-rail competition to help keep fares down, boost passenger choice, boost passenger satisfaction and deliver more routes.
Twenty years after the Conservatives privatized the failing British Rail, there is now an opportunity to deliver a falling railway subsidy, cheaper railway fares and better services to more locations. But this will only become a reality if a level of on-rail service competition between franchises and what is known as ‘open access’ is delivered.
A key example is the present East Coast Main Line franchise holder 'East Coast' which competes with ‘open access’ rail companies Grand Central and First Hull Trains to Yorkshire and the North East. However, there is no open access competition with Virgin which runs the West Coast Main Line franchise. New evidence shows that where on-rail competition exists, fares are lower, there is more revenue, more and happier passengers and higher premiums for the Government.