On-rail competition: consultation on options for change in open access

Reference: ORR/008/2013
Date published: 14 June 2013
Start date: 14 June 2013
Closing date: 9 August 2013

This was a consultation seeking your views on possible changes in on-rail competition.

On-rail competition is the process by which train operators compete to run services for passengers on similar routes. This form of competition has shown that it can deliver real benefits for passengers, such as more seats and reduced fares. It also provides opportunities for 'open access operators' (OAOs) – train operators that operate independently of franchises - to compete for services. OAOs tend to be popular with passengers, scoring consistently highly in Passenger Focus' National Passenger Survey. However, currently only 1% of passenger services on Britain's railways are run by OAOs.

While there is currently limited space on Britain's railways to run competing services, ORR's view is that the existing processes for OAOs to run passenger services could be improved to create more opportunities. The consultation outlines options for enhancing on-rail competition on Britain's railways so that more passengers can enjoy the benefits of competition without excessive cost to taxpayers. ORR recommends an extended opportunity to support greater on-rail competition, with scope for OAOs to run new services where they previously could not, if they pay mark-ups to cover more of the costs they create. Different options for calculating a mark-up are considered.

Consultation document