The Rationale for Railway Devolution: an International Comparison of Approaches

The Rationale for Railway Devolution: an International Comparison of Approaches


E O'Loughlin, Transport for London, UK


Railway devolution can deliver benefits to local communities without detracting from the national railway. This paper examines the rationale for devolution in London, and compares with Lyon and Burgundy.


This paper examines the concept of railway devolution, namely the transfer to regional or urban bodies of the responsibility for specifying, procuring, and in some cases, delivering, railway services.

The author will draw in particular on his experience of the transfer to Transport for London control of the North London Line and associated routes. This will be compared with original research into the approach adopted by other countries in Europe. The assessment will include the rationale for transfer, the benefits for the passenger, and how the routes in question still remain a vital part of the national infrastructure.

The paper will draw comparisons with experiences in the French regions ? Burgundy and the Lyon agglomeration in particular. This will include an assessment of the entire urban transport product offer ? specifically focusing on new rolling stock in Burgundy and the conversion of various Lyon railway lines to tram lines. It will also address the extent to which regionalisation in other European countries has improved the offer to customers.

The paper will synthesise this evidence to examine the general benefits of the transfer of specification control, concentrating on aspects such as the potential for integration with other forms of public transport; integration of fares and ticketing structures; branding; and the railway enhancement plans proposed through the wider spatial and social aims of the regional or urban body in question. The analysis will include an assessment of overall regional objectives, of economic and financial methodology, and in so doing, will attempt to determine the issues that national governments have in delivering regional projects. In so doing, it will cover contractual mechanisms which regional authorities may wish to employ in their service specification.

In conclusion the paper will examine the potential for further railway devolution, the problems that may be associated with that, and the likelihood that national bodies will encourage further devolution.


Association for European Transport