Roscos in the dock

26 April 2007

Keith Norman, ASLEF’s general secretary, said that today’s news that the train leasing companies – Roscos - are to be referred to the competition commission is ‘just another bizarre scene in the rail privatisation farce’.

‘By their nature, private companies make as much profit as they can. The way to stop excessive money being taken out of rail is to take the industry back into public control,’ he said. ‘Anything else is tinkering.’

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is referring the train leasing companies – Roscos - to the competition commission for a full inquiry. The Department for Transport asked the ORR to look into the situation last June.

The referral will be unwelcome news for the three companies who have dominated the market since privatisation - Angel Trains (part of Royal Bank of Scotland), Porterbrook (part of Banco Santander’s Abbey subsidiary) and HSBC Leasing. They currently charge train operators around £1billion a year.

It’s best not to hold your breath while the enquiry goes on – it is expected to take about two years. Meanwhile the Roscos have told the government that while the investigation is under way they would be ‘unlikely’ to write leases for new trains or extra carriages for existing ones if uncertainty is created over their likely returns. That is – guarantee our profits or we won’t play ball!

Keith says he also finds it remarkable that the DfT is worried about a lack of competition – because, he points out, privatisation has meant that passengers have none at all. ‘If you want to go from London to another city, you have no choice of rail company.

‘It is time to stop applying plasters and admit this particular patient is dead.’

Back »

By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. For more information please refer to ASLEF’s Privacy Policy