GNER shops for another forum for its State aid complaint

GNER press notice stating that the company has complained to the European Commission about alleged illegal State aid arising from ORR's track access charging regime. The company is aggrieved that it has to pay fixed charges to Network Rail whereas competing non-franchised operators do not face any fixed charges.

Apparently identical claims were dismissed by the English High Court in July 2006, on the grounds that the payment of fixed charges was a "wholly artificial construct" and a part of the overall franchise deal. GNER does not report any steps towards an appeal of that judgment.

GNER claims a financial impact of "up to £9.7m a year" — presumably the estimated effect on its business of greater competition. Even before the entry of new competitor Grand Central, GNER has been less profitable than hoped and its parent company Sea Containers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under DG Competition, ECML, Public transport, State aid.

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