Rail trav­ellers face ticket price hikes

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Neil Lance­field

SCOTS trav­el­ling to the North of Eng­land face higher train ticket fares un­der the new op­er­a­tor of the West Coast main line fran­chise, a watch­dog has warned.

A joint ven­ture be­tween Aberdeen­based FirstGroup and Ital­ian-owned rail firm Tren­i­talia may mean cost in­creases for pas­sen­gers, ac­cord­ing to the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA).

A probe found that on 17 routes, pas­sen­gers will only be able to choose be­tween First Tren­i­talia and FirstGroup­more owned Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press. On four more routes the only choice is be­tween the same two oper­a­tors and one other.

The CMA said First Tren­i­talia could ad­dress its con­cerns over the West Coast Part­ner­ship fran­chise.

In pre­vi­ous cases, such as the East Mid­lands Rail and South West­ern fran­chises, the watch­dog was sat­is­fied by firms com­mit­ting to price caps. A

in-depth in­quiry into First Tren­i­talia will be car­ried out ‘should any pro­pos­als of­fered be con­sid­ered in­suf­fi­cient’, the CMA said.

A FirstGroup spokesman said: ‘We have been dis­cussing our plans for the new West Coast Part­ner­ship fran­chise with the CMA for sev­eral months.

‘On the vast ma­jor­ity of routes, it found no com­pe­ti­tion is­sues. Now that this up­date gives more clar­ity, we look for­ward to sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als which we en­vis­age will sat­isfy their con­cerns.’

First Tren­i­talia is due to be­gin ser­vices on De­cem­ber 8. Vir­gin Trains, a part­ner­ship be­tween Vir­gin Group and Stage­coach, had run ser­vices on the West Coast Main Line since March 1997.

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