Railway franchising in Great Britain and effects of the 2008/09 economic recession
Since 2008 Britain’s passenger railway franchises have been under twin stresses. Due to economic recession, the growth in passengers and revenues temporarily slowed or reversed whilst franchise agreements require train operators to increase financial commitments from their franchise agreements. At the same time, government was cutting its share of rail revenue budgets. National Express East Coast was unable to meet its franchise commitments and its contract was cancelled. This paper analyses the differing effects of the 2008/09 economic recession on rail usage in each of the London and South East commuter, Long Distance intercity, and Regional franchise sectors and on rail industry finances. The case for longer franchises is considered both as a means of securing more private sector investment in rolling stock, stations, and rail services, and as a mechanism for surviving temporary economic downturns. Keywords: rail privatisation, franchising, economic recession, rail usage, rail investment
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