Home / Business / Ban standing on lengthy distance trains, says Virgin

Ban standing on lengthy distance trains, says Virgin

A passenger walking with a suitcase alongside a Virgin trainPicture copyright
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Virgin Trains has proposed an finish to standing on long-distance journeys by managing rail providers like flights.

The agency argues seats needs to be bought as reservation-only, as a part of a broader break-up of the rail franchise system.

The agency, which operates trains on the West Coast Principal Line, mentioned prospects ought to must e-book a ticket and a seat for a selected prepare.

Its proposal is a part of Virgin’s submission to a government-commissioned evaluation into the rail system.

At present, prepare operators sometimes settle for walk-up fares, which means they don’t have any management over the variety of folks getting on a selected prepare until it’s judged unsafe.

They’re additionally obliged to stay to inflexible timetables which Virgin Group mentioned results in some trains so packed that passengers are compelled to face for a number of hours, whereas others are principally empty.

Below its plans, Virgin would additionally discard peak and off-peak pricing tiers.

The prepare operator has additionally proposed a break-up of the present franchise system, the place corporations bid for contracts which run for numerous years, saying it’s “one thing of a straightjacket” for operators.

As a substitute, Virgin says that bundled slots on providers needs to be owned “in perpetuity” by prepare operators to permit operators to behave like “regular” companies, with extra freedom to set totally different ticket costs throughout providers.

Virgin mentioned the present system – the place corporations bid for contracts which run for numerous years – as “one thing of a straightjacket” for operators.

It mentioned the method of bundling slots would work in an identical technique to how some soccer broadcasting rights are auctioned.

Virgin argues that the transfer would encourage funding and permit operators to “innovate and adapt to a altering market”.

‘Whole chaos’

However unions mentioned the plans would result in “complete chaos”.

“What Virgin are proposing is a de-regulated free for all the place non-public prepare operators slug it out on essentially the most profitable routes on a slot-by-slot foundation,” mentioned Mick Money, common secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

“It could result in complete chaos with passengers trapped in a transport nightmare of escalating fares the place costs rise by the minute in response to availability.

Virgin’s submission was written earlier than the latest Authorities resolution to disqualify its bid for the West Coast Partnership. In response, Virgin has mentioned it could close down its train business altogether.

Ought to Virgin’s strategies be introduced in, the agency could also be thought of to be in an advantageous place, with present expertise of working flights by its Virgin Airways enterprise.

The William’s Evaluation, described as a “root and department” evaluation of the UK prepare trade, is being led by Keith Williams, the previous chief government of British Airways,

Mr Williams has beforehand refused to rule out any options, together with bringing the rail trade into public possession.

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