Transport Economics




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The rise of trains since 1995

GB rail journeys since 1921
Some people say that privatising the railways has made them more popular. The chart above shows that the nadir of rail demand was in 1982, and started to rise on a consistent trend around 1994. This was before many parts of British Rail had been privatised, and before any train services or rolling stock had been improved. Since then the latest figures show the number of people using trains has more than doubled. Isn’t most of this driven by a modal switch from road to rail – i.e. ultimately, by road congestion?

Abandoning concessions?

When a Train Operating Company (TOC) mis-prices its bid, why are they allowed to walk away from their concession after a few years with no significant penalty payments? This is particularly obnoxious when the years they abandon are those when they should be paying large fees to the government. If I rent out a flat I charge a substantial deposit which is forfeit if the tenants stop paying the rent in advance (particularly near the end of the tenancy), or trash the place. Especially as concessions get longer, why aren’t all TOCs obliged to make a substantial deposit payment (say, the highest two years’ fees) to an escrowed account which they will forfeit if they abandon the concession? It’s not an entry barrier but a gateway, keeping out the riffraff and admitting good transport concessionaires who will recognize this deposit as part of their costs of doing business – an essential part of their capital employed. Indeed, shouldn’t this be standard across the EU?