Rail catering but not British Rail sandwiches - an ORR market study

The UK's Office of Rail and Road (ORR), a regulator, has concurrent competition powers. It has announced it is launching a market study into the provision of railway station catering services. A market study commonly leads to the opening of a market investigation. Consequently, this market is likely to be under review for the next couple of years.

Potentially affected actors are (a) train station operators, namely, Network Rail and train operating companies (TOCs), (b) catering companies that operate at stations and (c) catering companies that would like to operate at stations but apparently are finding it difficult to get opportunities.  

The study will consider three themes, (a) the nature of competition; (b) legal and contractual framework and its impact on the competitive landscape for station catering, and (c) value for money.

These themes are a long way from the popular cultural humour about British Rail sandwiches that existed prior to privatisation of the railway in 1994. It will be interesting to see if the study, at least indirectly, might also be pertinent to catering services and the broader retail environment at other transport nodes.

As a first step in the process, the ORR invites input on the proposed market study.

A good railway station catering experience can impact the wider travel experience



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