Latest Rail News

27.03.13

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 opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

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.

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