Mick hits out at competition call

08 March 2016

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has hit out at a ‘risible’ new report which calls for ‘greater competition’ on Britain’s inter-city railways routes. The Competition and Markets Authority, in a report published today, has called for more competition from ‘open access’ operators on the three main inter-city routes – the East Coast and West Coast main lines and the Great Western route.

Mick said: ‘The idea that anything in this report would improve Britain’s rail network is risible to anyone who works in, and understands, our industry. The CMA says splitting up franchises would generate more competition. It wouldn’t. Breaking up the railway further will only increase costs.

‘Competition in the rail industry is a myth. There is only one set of tracks. The only competition in the railways is during the bidding process for a franchise! A railway is a network both in terms of operations and infrastructure. Keeping things together generates economies of scale. Splitting them up makes things more expensive.

‘The CMA recommends splitting inter-city services. But these are the most profitable routes! And the DfT doesn’t have the capacity to administer any more franchises. They only got two bids for the last one (South West Trains) because the privatised train operating companies have lost faith in the UK rail market. The CMA is out of touch with reality.’

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