Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Should you want to of course

Posted in Great Britain by Chairman Pip on 15 January 2010

The era of open-access operators has led to a rennaissance in rail travel in Great Britain, with destinations that long ago lost their connections to the capital being restored. Hull Trains (now First Hull Trains) was the pioneer, with Grand Central and Wrexham & Shropshire following them, and others on the way. Of course, should the open-access operator prove successful over its chosen route, invariably the nearest franchised operator may look on with envy and think “I want a piece of that”. Hence the recent war of words between Wrexham & Shropshire and Arriva Trains Wales, following the latter’s announcement that it has sought to operate services between London and Aberystwyth. Why you’d want to travel between London and Aberystwyth is another question entirely, but there you go. Wrexham & Shropshire has complained that the planned service by ATW would impact negatively on its own operation between London and Wrexham, with the company’s owner, Deutsche Bahn, suggesting that they would pull their funding should ATW be granted permission, leaving W&S to go to the wall, which would be a shame, given how well regarded its operation is. But, why don’t they simply work together? Surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to enter into an arrangement similar to that for London Overground – there, Transport for London is the owner, purchases the rolling stock and sets the fares and timetable, while London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) merely operates the trains. In this case, W&S would operate the services under its name, receiving a fee from ATW for the operation, while ATW ran the service (fares, timetable etc). This kind of code sharing works in the airline industry, so why not in this case? ATW gets its London-Aberystwyth trains, while W&S makes money from it. Everybody wins.

“Wrexham & Shropshire claims Arriva’s ‘predatory’ behaviour could drive it out of business”

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