Our article of 6 March 2014 reported on the Office of Rail Regulation's (ORR's) rail ticket market review. The next stage of that review has now taken place with a workshop of stakeholders held on 8 May 2014 at the ORR's offices in London.
The purpose of the workshop was to debate the scope of the ORR's ticket review by bringing together stakeholders, including Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and current and prospective third party retailers, to share views on the potential opportunities and challenges within the retail ticket market. The workshop was not intended to provide answers to all the issues raised by stakeholders: this is an 18-24 month review process.
Before the workshop, stakeholders had responded in writing to an invitation by the ORR to consider the scope of the review. The workshop was an opportunity to debate those issues in person with the industry.
The ORR's website contains the stakeholder responses, a note of the workshop and displays the slides from the workshop. Some of the key issues discussed that are likely to form part of the scope of the review included the following:
- Simplification of ticketing information presented to customers but without losing the choice of ticketing options for customers.
- Interaction with current franchise arrangements and how franchise arrangements could possibly provide TOCs with greater incentives for ticketing innovation.
- Increased use of technology, such as e-ticketing, including smartcards and mobile phone tickets and the cost/benefit analysis of implementing certain key changes, such as replacing current ticket barriers with those able to scan barcodes and/or deal with smartcards/phones.
- The position of third party retailers within the current industry arrangements and whether the market could be further opened up: for example a review of the current commission rates and how the data behind ticketing is accessed by the industry.
- Possible review of the ticketing and settlement agreement depending on the outcome of the review and what options for reform are taken forward.
- Whether the rail ticket market should be divided up into smaller geographical regions.
The next stage of the review is to analyse the views from stakeholders and identify the relevant issues that the review will focus on. After that, there will be a further consultation on potential options to address the issues (early 2015). The conclusions are likely in Spring/Summer 2015.