Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Competition moderated

In the mad world of today's railway Virgin gets to have its cake and eat it.

Under Moderation of Competition rules no other operator is allowed to provide services that might potentially abstract revenue from Beardie Rail.

In return Beardie Rail spins that it has spent billions of pounds on new rolling stock - it hasn't, Angel has, End of!

No matter.

Of course Moderation of Competition is a one way street, protecting Virgin profits but allowing Beardie Rail to muscle in on the operations of others.

For instance, those of open access operator WSMR.

Beardie Rail had ignored Shrewsbury and the Borders since privatisation but now it wants in on the action.

First it operated a token daily service to Wrexham.

Now it's keen to add Shrewsbury as a destination and has submitted a bid to the ORR that would see see several trains a day serve the city.

Of course the initial winners in all this will be the passenger, who will be offered an increased range of services and competition on fares.

Until of course the smaller operator is squeezed out and then Beardie Rail can charge what it likes.

An experience not unknown to those parts of the country unfortunate enough to benefit from bus services operated by Stagecoach

Which funnily enough owns 49% of Beardie Rail.

UPDATE: This from Ewan...

It’ll be interesting to see how loud Beardie Rail squawks when ATW submit the application for their Aberystwyth – Marylebone service, especially as it is just an extension of a couple of their current trains to Birmingham International.

ATW’s on-line puff does state that:

Due to a protective clause in West Coast’s track access agreement, we are not able to carry passengers between Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International and London . However passengers from these stations will be able to travel directly to Leamington Spa and Bicester and Wembley”.

I’m sure Beardie Rail’s legal team will be asking some searching questions as to how ATW plan to ensure that is the case.

First for fares evasion

The Fact Compiler is unsure whether First is guilty of common sense or gross hypocrisy.

This from Channel 4 News...

A train company has defended its decision not to impose a penalty fare on former London Mayor Ken Livingstone after he travelled without a ticket.

First Great Western (FGW) train company said it has accepted Mr Livingstone's apology and they were happy for him to pay the fare when he got to Slough.

Bearing in mind Ken's destination perhaps they thought he had suffered enough!

UPDATE: Ithuriel writes...

It only goes to show that Hopwood is a big old-railway softy compared with the killer queen of FCC.

The fair Elaine's TTI's would not accept apologies from anyone!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Ferguson-Lee...

Ken would have a much friendlier reception in Greater Manchester, where Northern operate a 'no revenue' model at evenings and many weekends.

You can't buy a ticket even if you want to!

Corrections and clarifications

This just in from Robert Wright of the Financial Times...

The fact compiler appears to be confused - understandably confused, but still confused - about who owns Angel Trains.

The purchase from RBS was arranged by Babcock & Brown, the bit that's gone bust, which also arranged the financing.

But the shares are owned by a range of investors, including the Babcock & Brown European Infrastructure Fund, a separate fund that's unaffected by the Babcock & Brown collapse.

Babcock & Brown holds fewer than 5 per cent of the shares in BBEI, I'm told.

So there's no cause for alarm about the future of either Angel Trains or Forth Ports.

The Fact Compiler stands corrected!