Rail Franchises, Competition and Public Service

Tony Prosser, Professor of Public Law will come to speak about rail franchises, competition and public service.

This is a free event however registration is required in advance. There will be a drinks reception after the lecture.

Recent work on the use of contracts as a means of delivering public services has not examined in detail the use of rail franchises, nor has it looked at comparisons with Continental Europe where there is a well-established tradition of the delegation of such services to public and private actors. Rail franchises have been controversial for a number of reasons; their effect on competition; their inability to transfer risk effectively and problems with award procedures. They also represent a form of highly detailed command and control regulation. In this lecture Professor Prosser will contrast their use in the UK with that in Sweden, where there is less of a concern with risk transfer, and Italy, where the role of a dominant operator has meant that contracts for the provision of public services have not needed to specify service requirements in detail, although transparency is lower than in the UK. He will discuss alternatives, such as greater competition, the use of contracts within a unified public enterprise, devolution to local authorities and the use of concessions in which only limited risk is transferred. He will also suggest some conclusions in relation to the role of trust in regulation and contracting.

Tony Prosser was appointed Professor of Public Law in 2002, having previously been John Millar Professor of Law at the University of Glasgow and having taught at the Universities of Sheffield and Hull. He was also a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. He currently visiting professor at the College of Europe, Bruges. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2014.

His main research interests are in Public Law relating to privatisation, regulation and economic management. His most recent books are The Economic Constitution (Oxford University Press 2014), The Regulatory Enterprise: Government, Regulation and Legitimacy and The Regulatory State: Constitutional Implications (the latter edited with Dawn Oliver and Richard Rawlings), both Oxford University Press 2010. He was also a participant in a major European project on Reflexive Governance, in particular in relation to services of general interest, and in a further European project on the media and democracy. His current research is on social theory and public law, and on the use of rail franchising. His teaching interests are in the areas of law and government, constitutional rights, and social and legal theory.