TOCs Competition Inquiries

Passenger Rail Franchising Companies in Great Britain (TOCs)

TOCs Competition Inquiries

Whenever there is a possibility through the franchising process for multiple franchises to come into the common ownership of a larger transport group, these can lead to referrals to the competition authorities for investigation (currently the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)), if it is deemed there is a concern that market dominance might result in a monopoly. This can also be triggered when there is an overlap between train and bus services in a particular area or corridor (most bus and coach services in Great Britain having been privatised in the 1980s).

Many investigations are cancelled without conclusion, simply because the concerning situation does not arise (i.e. a different company wins the bid). Investigations are also often closed with no action, after it is found there is little concern (such as in cases where the operator has little-to-no ability to create a monopoly situation in practice, even though they may control large areas of services). Where a concern is found to be significant, it is often resolved through the operators agreeing to certain undertakings designed to prevent the monopoly situation occurring, although in some cases investigations will conclude there is no alternative but to block the proposed contract.

Investigations which resulted in undertakings are as follows:

In February 2017 the Transport Select Committee concluded that the rail franchising model was "no longer fit for purpose" and was failing passengers, and recommended that the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling should instigate an independent review.


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