die belebende Bedenkung

Rail and roadcoach competition

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Le Figaro report on roadcoach part deregulation in France (Feb 2014)

Le Figaro report on roadcoach part deregulation in France (Feb 2014)

CNN’s report on high speed rail in Spain also mentioned the ‘unfair competition’ aspect.

In 2010, Fenebús, a bus company trade association, won a complaint it filed against the Spanish government. The European Commission ruled that the government subsidies RENFE used to cut long-distance and high-speed train prices to compete with bus and airline companies were illegal. It gave the government six months to eliminate those subsidies.

There is unlikely to be any real way of eliminating all subsidies to Spanish high speed rail, because its cost base is too large. The same would be true for most other HSR lines in the world. For example, without various streams of state funding, the Eurostar service between London, Brussels, and Paris would not have been possible.

Even classic lower speed intercity rail tends to require operating subsidy in an open market. For many decades in France and Germany, long distance roadcoach services were not permitted (in order to protect the state-owned rail operator), but they were allowed in Great Britain (even before the 1980 Transport Act).

There was a brief period, before rail pseudo-privatisation in the mid 1990s, in which British Rail’s Intercity sector was able to compete against road coach competition while managing to cover its full costs, but after 1997 that was no longer possible. It is unlikely that Stagecoach, FirstGroup, and National Express Group plc would ever complain about rail subsidies in Britain distorting competition, because they are some of the largest recipients of those subsidies.


Written by beleben

May 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Great Britain, HS1

One Response

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  1. Paving the railways, and operating the system to avoid congestion, would enable express coaches and lorries to discharge the national railway function a fraction the cost of the train whilst providing all London’s crushed surface rail commuters with seats. Even in central London and in the peak hour the replacement coaches would fill only one seventh of the capacity available, see topics 15 at and Topic 2 plus the references therein.

    There is no other way of providing much needed capacity and reducing travel costs, in our towns and cities; a solution that would also remove many thousands of lorries and other vehicles from the unsuitable rural roads and city streets which they now clog.


    May 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

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