National Express bid for Thameslink: issues statement

Competition Commission issues statement (2 pages, PDF) on the proposed acquisition of the Thameslink Great Northern franchise by National Express, which also operates Gatwick Express and coach services to Luton airport, Luton and Bedford.

The Commission focuses on services to and from London. Surprisingly, the statement does not mention the Luton airport to Gatwick airport flow. It considers that the relevant markets for each of the affected point-to-point flows may include coach services, taxis, and private car transport, and may be "segmented by journey purpose". The Commission seeks information on elasticities, but does not seek specific information on the fare structures operated by private hire or coach operators (particularly those with advanced yield management systems, such as easyBus), even though that would seem relevant to an analysis of whether these appear to be constrained by the corresponding railway fares.

As regards the "effect on competition", the Commission appears to have chosen to focus on "whether as result [sic] of the acquisition coach or rail fares on the services identified above, might increase, or service frequency or quality decline", taking account of non-competitive pressures such as regulation and subsidy arrangements, rather than on a direct analysis of the competitive constraints that arise from passenger choice in the market and that may be lost as a result of the merger.

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Competition Commission, Public transport.

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