Rail Franchises, Competition and Public Service

28 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2018

See all articles by Luke Butler

Luke Butler

University of Birmingham

Tony Prosser

University of Bristol - School of Law

Date Written: January 2018


The use of franchises to deliver rail services has raised major problems. Franchises restrict competition in the market, whilst competitive bidding for franchises has met with difficulties, notably in relation to risk transfer and the recent use of short‐term contracts that have not been awarded competitively. Further, franchise agreements are detailed and highly stipulative and do not achieve the flexibility and opportunities for innovation originally intended. This reflects an underlying lack of trust resulting from the arrangements adopted on privatisation. By contrast, in Sweden regional services have been procured through contracts with limited risk transfer, and in Italy provision of services has been entrusted to a dominant operator with comparatively limited detailed service specifications; both seem to have been more successful. For the future in the UK, possibilities include greater use of competition, a return to public ownership, regionalisation, and the use of concessions with limited risk transfer to secure stability.

Suggested Citation

Butler, Luke and Prosser, Tony, Rail Franchises, Competition and Public Service (January 2018). The Modern Law Review, Vol. 81, Issue 1, pp. 23-50, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3100473 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12315

Luke Butler

University of Birmingham ( email )

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Tony Prosser (Contact Author)

University of Bristol - School of Law ( email )

Wills Memorial Building
Queen's Road Clifton
Bristol BS8 1RJ, BS8 1RJ
United Kingdom
0117 954 5302 (Phone)

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