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A review of passenger rail franchising in Britain: 1996/1997-2006/2007


  • Preston, John


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Preston, John, 2008. "A review of passenger rail franchising in Britain: 1996/1997-2006/2007," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 71-77, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:22:y:2008:i:1:p:71-77

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard D Knowles, 2004. "Impacts of privatising Britain's rail passenger services -- franchising, refranchising, and Ten Year Transport Plan targets," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 36(11), pages 2065-2087, November.
    2. Michael G. Pollitt & Andrew S. J. Smith, 2002. "The restructuring and privatisation of British Rail: was it really that bad?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 463-502, December.
    3. Yvrande-Billon, Anne & Menard, Claude, 2005. "Institutional constraints and organizational changes: the case of the British rail reform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 675-699, April.
    4. Gourvish, Terry, 2002. "British Rail 1974-1997: From Integration to Privatisation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199250059.
    5. J Cowie, 2002. "Subsidy and Productivity in the Privatised British Passenger Railway," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 7(1), pages 25-38, March.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. La liberalización del sector ferroviario… ponerse la venda antes de la herida
      by Juan José Ganuza in Nada Es Gratis on 2014-06-05 11:00:57


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    Cited by:

    1. Carmen A. Li & John Stittle, 2014. "Privatisation and Franchising of British Train Operations," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 24(1), pages 53-65, March.
    2. Preston, John, 2018. "The wheels keep on turning: Is the end of rail franchising in Britain in sight?," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 187-196.
    3. Bray, David & Sayeg, Philip, 2013. "Private sector involvement in urban rail: Experience and lessons from South East Asia," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-201.
    4. Smith, Andrew S.J. & Wheat, Phill E. & Nash, Chris A., 2010. "Exploring the effects of passenger rail franchising in Britain: Evidence from the first two rounds of franchising (1997-2008)," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 72-79.
    5. Álvarez-SanJaime, Óscar & Cantos-Sanchez, Pedro & Moner-Colonques, Rafael & Sempere-Monerris, Jose J., 2015. "A model of internal and external competition in a High Speed Rail line," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 178-187.
    6. Preston, John, 2016. "Deja Vu all over again? Rail franchising in Britain," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 107-115.

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