The European Union has ordered countries to open all commercial train services to competition by 2020, reports Bloomberg.
Competition is likely to have a dramatic effect on ridership and fares. The introduction of rival passenger rail carriers has helped ridership almost double in some cases, while ticket prices have plunged.
Some newcomers have already made impressive debuts. In 2012, Italo SpA, a startup led by former Ferrari NV boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, began high-speed service from Milan to Rome. Today it serves 17 cities up and down the Italian peninsula with spiffy red trains, easy-to-use online booking and frequent service. It now controls 30% of the country’s high-speed rail market, carrying some 13 million passengers last year, up from 6 million in 2014.
Lower rail fares could attract “millions of new passengers,” says Jacques Gounon, CEO of Getlink SE, the company that manages the English Channel Tunnel.
Getlink already runs a car-and-truck shuttle through the tunnel and is considering a discount high-speed service that would challenge Eurostar International Ltd., which now offers the only high-speed passenger service through the tunnel, with fares often topping £400 ($510) for a London-Paris round trip. “We’re convinced the demand is there” for a lower-priced alternative, Gounon said. (Source: Bloomberg
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