UK rail passengers are suffering from militant Trade Union action and poor performance by Network Rail.
60% of delays on Southern are due to network problems. Delays are exacerbated by strike action and the doubling of staff sickness rates since earlier this year.
A deeper underlying problem is the near absence of “open access” on track competition, where two operators run services in competition over similar routes.
Where open access operates in the UK, passenger satisfaction is at its highest. But the DfT is concerned that more open access will reduce the franchise premium.
A new high speed open access application has been submitted on the overcrowded London to Southampton route. This could allow on track competition in Southern England for the first time, giving passengers more choice and lower fares.
Government should publicly support competition on UK rail and show its commitment by easing the path for those seeking to deliver competition against franchise holders.
Tony Lodge, Daniel Mahoney and Tim Knox - Wednesday 21st December 2016
Tony Lodge is a political and energy analyst. He is a former Editor of the European Journal and a former Chief of Staff to the Shadow Attorney General and Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. He has written regularly in the national and international media and appeared on national TV and radio covering energy policy issues.
Daniel joined the Centre for Policy Studies as Head of Economic Research in November 2015. He was promoted to Deputy Director in March 2017. Prior to joining the CPS, he worked in research roles for a number of parliamentarians.
Tim Knox was Director of the CPS from 2011-2017. Before he was Director, Tim was the Editor at the CPS - a position in which he was responsible for publishing papers by every Conservative leader since Mrs Thatcher as well as by hundreds of leading academics and opinion formers.