Press Release: Open access rail competition approved on West Coast Main Line

Responding to the news this morning that the Office of Rail and Road has approved new competitive ‘open access’ rail services between London Euston and the North West, CPS Research Fellow Tony Lodge states:

In our 2013 research, ‘Rail’s Second Chance – putting competition back on track’ we called for high speed trains on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between London Euston and the North West to face competition in the shape of new non-franchised services, known as ‘open access’.  This model has been a huge success on the East Coast Main Line between London King’s Cross and the North East where open access trains compete with the franchised services and deliver lower fares, more routes, more and happier passengers and higher revenues.

Lodge went on to say;

From 2017 passengers travelling from London Euston to Blackpool via Milton Keynes, Tamworth, Crewe and other large towns on the WCML will be given a choice in their high speed rail operator;  today they can only travel with Virgin as that operator enjoys an effective monopoly on high speed tilting style trains on Britain’s most important rail route.  Alternatively, at London King’s Cross passengers have enjoyed a choice between the main line franchised operator and two open access competitors for trains to the North East since the mid 2000s – but this has been missing from the West Coast.

Following on from the Competition and Markets Authority Report last month which called for more rail competition then this is a very welcome development and shows that a desire to see more on-track rail competition is now being taken seriously in government, over twenty years since Conservatives privatised the railways.

Date Added: Friday 7th August 2015