Research Fellow Tony Lodge wrote to the editor of the Daily Telegraph on the success of rail competition where it has been allowed, Tuesday 22 September 2015.
SIR – Anthony Rodriguez is right to bemoan the lack of on-track rail competition, but he fails to acknowledge that where it has been allowed the results have been dramatic.
In a study of the East Coast Main Line, where “open-access” rail firms compete with the line’s franchise holder, the Centre for Policy Studies found that revenue rose by 57 per cent at stations where competition occurred, compared with 48 per cent at those without, while average fares increased by 11 per cent at stations with competition but by 17 per cent at those without.
The East Coast franchise has increased its profit from £46 million in 2010 to £266 million today. The open-access companies, which compete with the Virgin East Coast franchise, Grand Central and First Hull Trains, record the highest passenger satisfaction statistics of all British train companies. Grand Central also recorded the highest passenger growth last year.
Rail competition is in the interests of passengers, taxpayers, the Government and the regions. Supporting open-access competition alongside franchises is crucial. It avoids a situation where “railopolies” can raise fares without fear of passengers voting with their feet.
Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Studies