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Author Topic: Weston MP says consumers deserve choices when it comes to local rail services  (Read 528 times)
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He who laughs last hasn't got all the facts.

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« on: October 11, 2018, 10:41:21 am »

From Somerset Live:

Quote from: Somerset Live
Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose is calling for more competition in local rail services, putting an end to “monopolies” on the railways.

The conservative MP says having more operators on the Great Western mainline and beyond will provide travellers with cheaper fares and drive up standards.

“I’d like to see more choice for local rail users in Bristol, Weston, Swindon and everywhere else so that if they don’t like the service that is being provided by First [owner of Great Western Railways], then they don’t have to wait 10 years until the franchise ends – they can wait 10 minutes until a different train company’s service comes past and they can get on that instead,” Mr Penrose told Bristol Live.

“It may be cheaper or more comfortable – all the variation you expect when you buy a car or when you choose a toothpaste, or whatever it may be. I’d love to see that.”

Great Western Railway (GWR), owned by First Group, currently has the contract to run inter-city trains between Weston-super-Mare, Bristol and London Paddington, having won the franchise for 2015-2020.

But Mr Penrose said the franchise system operated by the Department for Transport (DfT) amounted to “selling monopolies” for a set time period.

He added that passengers would be better served if multiple companies could compete on the same stretch of track because it would force them to become “innovative” in an effort to please passengers.

Mr Penrose said he wanted to see “two or three bidders” on the Great Western mainline “running different trains with different time slots over the course of the next 10 years”.

He said: “It means [train companies] don’t have one spasm of competitive activity every 10 years [to win the franchise] and then they relax.

“You have to carry on trying really hard and peddling hard to keep you and me as the travelling public happy every single day for the next 10 years.”

What has GWR said?

A spokesman for GWR said it was for the DfT to decide how rail franchising was carried out in future.

He added that there was already “competition on many parts of our network” with the line through Weston served by GWR and Cross Country, while South Western Railways also serves Bristol and the West of England region.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for DfT said the current franchise model had brought investment to the Great Western mainline.

She said: “Billions of pounds are being invested in projects to transform the Great Western network and give passengers new services and new, more comfortable trains.”

Here's how the public has responded

The idea, which Mr Penrose shared on social media, has received a mixed reaction from his followers.

Some have praised him for his innovative thinking, believing competition is the way forward.

Mike Dolley commented: "This is a good idea and needs pursuing. The franchise holders are arrogant and dismissive, because they know they can get away with behaving that way in a near monopoly situation."

Robert Sugar added: "Monopoly doesn't leave room for competition. If passengers cannot make a choice then nothing motivates train service operators to improve. We just get what we get."

Meanwhile, others suggested it might be easier said than done.

Mike Harding wrote: "I love the idea but unless trains are very frequent we are still going to be tied to that which gets us into work at the correct time."

Others argued competition for low ticket prices wouldn't necessarily result in an improvement in services.

Currently muddling along the Guingamp-Carhaix line
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2018, 10:48:39 am »

I'm sure the MP can feed into his own Government's enquiry into rail.....!!
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2018, 10:53:28 am »

I wonder if his "wait ten minutes for the next train" suggests 6 services per hour - which would need a bit more infrastructure than we have at present - or if he's suggesting a repetition of bus competition where two trains an hour could be a gap of 10 minutes then a gap of 50 minutes?

Has he suggested to Arriva that they stop their Cross Country services at Weston-super-mare - that would be a quick way to get competition in his neck of the woods ...

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest and of RailFuture
Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2018, 12:50:40 pm »

John Penrose: “I’d like to see more choice for local rail users in Bristol, Weston, Swindon and everywhere else so that if they don’t like the service that is being provided by First...

Quote from: Somerset Live
A spokesman for GWR said South Western Railways also serves Bristol and the West of England region.


(quotes extensively snipped)
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2018, 02:03:13 pm »

Presumably if the infrastructure would support it he could run an Open Access rail route.

I am sure that Network Rail and DfT would be only to happy to invest a couple of billion £s in the GWR system to improve the infrastructure for him.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 08:24:00 am »

He only jumps on the bandwagon when he needs local votes, most of the time he vanishes when there are problems around the station and the services that serve it
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