Virgin fares

The outcome of our investigation under the Competition Act 1998 in 2001 regarding a number of passenger complaints about the scale of increases of the unregulated fares on Virgin's West Coast Trains Ltd.

We received a number of complaints from passengers and passenger representatives regarding the scale of increases of the unregulated fares on Virgin's West Coast Trains Ltd.

We considered carefully whether it would be appropriate to undertake a formal investigation under the Competition Act 1998, and, in particular, what needed to be established under competition law to determine whether a particular fare charged by a franchise operator is excessive.

We concluded that, in the absence either of evidence of excessive profit being generated across a franchise as a whole, or of other evidence that the level of a particular fare had no reasonable relationship to the real costs or the real value of the product offered, there were no reasonable grounds for suspecting a franchise operator of a breach of the Chapter II prohibition of the Competition Act 1998.

Against these criteria, we concluded that there were no reasonable grounds for suspecting Virgin of having infringed the Competition Act 1998 and he did not proceed to open a formal investigation.

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