This article assesses the continuing argument about the substitution of bus services for rural railway lines in the United Kingdom. This subject was thoroughly discussed in a surprisingly under-reported scrutiny published by the monopolies and mergers commission (mmc) in February 1989. Its terms of reference included investigating whether: (1) the quality of service was appropriate; (2) fares were correct; (3) services could be matched closer to demand; (4) services could be improved without increasing costs; (5) guaranteed bus services should be substituted for rail. Potential candidates for bus substitution were examined, and had to meet the following criteria: (1) maximised infrastructure savings; (2) physical feasibility; (3) acceptable journey times; (4) ability to handle traffic volumes; (5) good bus/rail interchange facilities; (6) consideration of existing bus services; (7) the need for substantial investment to keep a route open; (8) minimisation of wider social/economics disbenefits. 8 case studies across the whole range of provincial services were examined. The mmc's findings included the following: (1) in many areas, bus and rail are complementary, not competitive; (2) topography is a major factor, with rail sometimes providing attractive, fast, direct services; (3) congestion is sometimes a deterrent to substitution; (4) the recent upturn in rail use, combined with increased revenue and cost cutting, has weakened the case for bus substitution; (5) only an extensive and unpopular programme of substitution could bring substantial cost savings.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Reed Business Information, Limited

    Quadrant House, The Quadrant
    Brighton Road
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  • Authors:
    • Mathew, D
  • Publication Date: 1989-4-13


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 12-15
  • Serial:
    • Volume: 171
    • Issue Number: 5040
    • Publisher: Hemming Group, Limited
    • ISSN: 0039-6303

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00498720
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL)
  • Files: ITRD, TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1990 12:00AM