Privatised rail: industry vs passengers
Dan Milmo had an interesting article in yesterday’s Observer about the upturn in fortunes of the recently nationalised east coast rail service. Its success was reviving interest in recreating an integrated InterCity network, he said, “possibly under government ownership”.
Milmo quoted two responses to this idea.
Roger Ford, industry and technology editor of Modern Railways magazine, said that an InterCity operator with one website, a simplified fares structure and a unifying brand would galvanise an industry that has “lost sight of the passenger”:
“It seems such an obvious thing to do. One of the problems facing the railway is that it is terribly fragmented with different operators. It is very difficult making a long-distance journey these days. There are so many different tickets and websites. What the railway has lost is an integrated national network that holds it together. InterCity is the face of the railway that everybody sees.”
Tony Collins, chief executive of Virgin Trains, opposed the idea:
“The term ‘InterCity’ as a catch-all is out of date. Our route is now a complex mix of ‘long commute’, leisure and business travel, which each have different needs, and we are succeeding in the face of greater competition than ever before. Our routes all need astute marketing and management, which wouldn’t come under a multi-legged monolith. One size doesn’t fit all.”
“Complex mix”, “greater competition”, “astute marketing”? Hmm, what could Roger Ford have meant when he said the industry has lost sight of its passengers?
Update 26 Nov 2009: Doh!
Posted by Other TPA at 12:59pm on 23 November 2009
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