Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Regional Railways Go Back To The Future? Talking About Interoperability

image Rail services from Brighton and Hove are operated by both First Group on the Thameslink lines via St Pancras to Bedford, and Southern Railways on the rest of the network. So it was interesting to see that, in its latest round of tenders, the Department for Transport is amalgamating some services currently run by the separate train operators. The impact on industrial structure remains to be seen, but a couple of thoughts arise. First, this feels like back to the future, re-inventing the Southern Railway of pre-nationalisation days. Second, passengers would breathe a sigh of relief if the enlarged franchise area means it’s no longer necessary to decide which railway company to use for each journey, a key decision since many tickets are not interoperable. Hard to believe that the industry and the regulator could have been set up in a way that makes this possible: if the same thing happened in telecommunications it would mean that a customer of Network A wouldn’t be able to call a customer who happened to be on Network B. Not sensible for phones. So how comes it happens with trains? (picture from culture24.org.uk)

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