Rail travellers face ticket price hikes
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.