How to make long-distance work

A new report by Adrian Quine, rail consultant and journalist, and Sophie Jarvis, Head of Government at the ASI, calls for the abolition of the current monopoly franchise system for trains and replacement with an Open Access system. The privatisation of Britain’s railways led to a renaissance, with record passenger numbers, new services, improved safety and record investment. Despite these positive developments the British public generally don’t acknowledge this.

The current long-distance rail model, whereby private sector monopoly franchise operators deliver highly specified public sector contracts, limits consumer choice. Innovation is lacking, customer care is poor, and the unions retain a stranglehold. Consumers say they want better service, more choice, and lower fares. Renationalisation would not deliver any of these goals. The railways need flexibility and agility to thrive; a model that allows the best of the public and private sectors to work together to deliver real value for both passengers and taxpayers — this is what Open Access competition provides.

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