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Keep Competition on the Rails (The Observer)

    CPS Research Fellow Tony Lodge wrote to The Observer letters on rail competition, Monday 12 May 2014.

    The successful model for the railways that Labour’s parliamentary candidates desire already exists, particularly in the north, but on too small a scale ("The solution to rail misery’’, letters, last week).

    Only more on-track rail competition between franchises and private rail companies, known as open access, can better serve passengers, deliver lower fares and serve more routes to places that previously not enjoyed direct high-speed rail connections. The state-run east coast mainline franchise is the only line where the franchise holder has to compete on a large part of the line with non-franchised, open-access railway companies.

    Research from the Centre for Policy Studies – Rail’s second chance-putting competition back on track- shows east coast mainline passenger journeys increased by 42% at those stations that enjoy rail competition between the franchised operator and open access, compared with 27% for those without competition; revenue increased by 57% where competition occurs compared with 48% for those without and average fares increased by only 11% at those stations with competition, compared with 17% at those stations without.

    Those open-access companies that compete with East Coast, Grand Central and First Hull Trains also consistently record the highest passenger satisfaction statistics of all the UK train companies and they receive no money from the government.

    More rail competition is in the interests of the passengers, the taxpayer, the government and the regions. The Labour Party should support more open-access rail competition.

    Tony Lodge

    View the video Rail's Second Chance: 

    Date added: Tuesday 13th May 2014