A review of passenger rail franchising in Britain: 1996/1997-2006/2007
Research in Transportation Economics, 2008, vol. 22, issue 1, 71-77
This paper reviews 10 years of passenger rail franchising in Great Britain and highlights problems in three areas: the tension between commercial and social objectives; the presence of risks and uncertainty; and vulnerability to strategic behaviour such as low-balling, chiselling and back loading. It concludes that franchising has had some good features (such as the high level of competitive pressure) but also some bad features (such as a high rate of franchise failures). In addition, an ugly feature of franchising is the scope for strategic behaviour. Further reform is suggested based on a distinction between commercial and social franchises.
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