Latest Rail News


Open access is ‘clear success’ – Lodge

The rail industry needs to increase competition and allow more open access operators to run services, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) think tank has proposed.

Tony Lodge, a regulator contributor to RTM, has written a report for the free market think tank urging the Government to increase the amount of competition to avoid rail monopolies.

Examples of open access operators forcing franchised TOCs to up their game, such as on the East Coast Main Line, and in rail freight, demonstrate clear benefits, he said. Examples include Grand Central (pictured above) and First Hull Trains, and the benefits they bring include new private investment, innovation, new routes, lower taxpayer subsidies and lower fares, with higher passenger satisfaction. But many companies keen to run more open access services – such as Alliance Rail Holdings – have struggled to get permission.

Lodge’s report recommends that the DfT should restructure the franchising programme to enable more competition via open access operators.

Lodge said: “There are applications in with the DfT for new open access services to run alongside the franchise on the West Coast Main Line.

“But despite the clear success of some competition on the ECML there remain draconian DfT blockages in place which restrict and prevent effective on-track competition from being delivered in the interests of the passenger, the railways, the regions and the economy. A new Office of Rail Competition and Utilisation (ORCU) is urgently required.”

Tim Knox, director of the CPS, said: “From banking to energy, from outsourcing companies to water, there are too many sectors of the British economy dominated by cartels and quasi-monopolies.

“Faced with little meaningful competition, they share the same characteristics: a failure to innovate, a failure to challenge their own high cost base, a failure to put their customers’ interests first. The same is true to the passenger rail network.

“The good news is, by following Tony Lodge’s recommendations, Government can do something to put things right very quickly.”

For more on Lodge’s proposition, see the Feb/March edition of Rail Technology Magazine.

Open access bottom image

(Image of a Grand Central train courtesy Alvey & Towers)

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at


Craig   05/04/2013 at 17:17

The image of a Grand Central train looks more like a National Express East Coast train to me

Editor   08/04/2013 at 08:48

Good spot Craig, that was a mislabelled picture, which we've deleted.

Add your comment



Rail industry Focus

  • 11/09/2019The next generation of rail infrastructure

    How the rail industry delivers the next generation of complex infrastructure will rely heavily on the people tasked with leading the projects, and the technology they use to do it. Faithful+Gould...
  • 11/09/2019Putting passengers first

    How does the rail industry design the railways for the next 40 years, and when it does, how do we make sure it’s all done with the passenger in mind? Jane Fisher joined three members of the Arup team...
View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

17/09/2019Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

Continuing our mission to connect buyers with suppliers, This year TransCityRail North is adding a new element to the event. We are introducing an incomparable opportunity for you to meet with over 11 procurement directors from Network Rail... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >