Inquiry highlights failure of franchising

23 May 2016

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced an investigation into the Department for Transport’s decision to award the Northern Rail franchise to Arriva. The company runs the Cross Country franchise and a number of bus routes in the region. The CMA is concerned that Arriva’s substantial share of transport in the north may be anti-competitive and could lead to higher prices and a reduction in services.

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said ‘this unprecedented investigation shines alight on the failure of government franchising policy and, indeed, its rail policy more widely. The quest for pure competition in rail was always doomed to fail.

Mick added ‘the DfT only got two bids for its South West trains franchise. Its East Coast franchise is unravelling for a third time and open access award will undermine it further. A new approach to rail has never been more needed but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen under this government.’

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