Abolish ORR and increase open access (Rail)

Respected industry publication Rail Magazine profiled the findings of Tony Lodge's 'Rail's Second Chance' report in their 3 April 2013 issue. To view their opinion piece backing some of the findings, click here

For more from Rail magazine, visit the website.

"A right wing think tank is calling on government to abolish the office of Rail Regulation in favour of a new creation that will promote competition and, following 2012’s collapse of rail franchising, show how open access operators can play a bigger part.

In a paper entitled Rail’s second chance, the Centre for Policy studies argues that open access operators attract passengers to rail while keeping low fares. It claims that open access operators do not take revenue from franchises but help increase passenger numbers.

As a result, it argues that the Office of Rail Regulation’s ‘not primarily abstractive’ test for potential open access operators should be scrapped.

It compares franchise since privatisation with freight operators and says the latter have reduced costs while franchises have contributed to rising costs.

It backs the arguments with East Coast Main Line statistics that is says show that passenger journeys increased by 42% at stations with competition, compared with 27% at those without.

Revenue increased 57% where there was competition but 48% were there was not. It says average fares rose 11% at competitive stations and 17% at others.

In additions, it says the ECML’s two open access operators, Grand Central and First Hull Trains, came first and second in the National Passenger Survey rankings for passenger satisfaction.

Report author Tony Lodge said: “Following the West Coast Main Line fiasco, the model for awarding rail franchising is now in disarray. Ministers at the DfT should seize the opportunity to restructure new franchises to enable far greater competition to flourish across the UK rail network.”

The report promotes the role open access operators could have. It admits they are small but say they have potential and represent an important opportunity to revolutionise the industry.

GC and HT, the report says, represent a model that could be replicated elsewhere because they have proved they can generate new journeys and attract new passengers."

For more from Rail magazine, visit the website.

Watch our short animation of the benefits of on-rail open access competition:

Date added: Wednesday 3rd April 2013