Open Access is Now – Private Investment is Proven to Grow the Rail Sector IF Certain Barriers to Entry Are Broken Down
This month, we learnt of another example where new Open Access long-distance rail has (1) been profitable, (2) grown the total market and (3) increased private investment in passenger rail – because the market conditions were right.
In October 2021 in the United Kingdom, the new Open Access operator Lumo was launched on the long-distance route between London and Edinburgh, serving the same route as the state-owned incumbent PSO operator LNER. Lumo’s rolling stock is entirely brand-new.
The result: within one year, after a private investment of £100 million (approx. €118 million) in Lumo, over half (57%) of journeys between Edinburgh and London were by rail, compared to just 35% before the COVID pandemic (in 2019) – which is great news for modal shift.
Now, just 2 ½ years after its launch, Lumo is already profitable and significantly boosting the profits of its parent company, First Group.
Next steps: 
▶ Lumo recently announced more new growth with additional routes and services to SheffieldGlasgow and Manchesterfunded by more private investment.
What is the difference to the EU?
▶ In the UK, there is impartial retail – All Rail Tickets Sold At All Rail Ticket Vendors – e.g. it is regulated that LNER sells Lumo (and vice-versa). The priority is Full Transparency for passengers. 
▷ Despite this, independent ticket vendors still enjoy higher market share in the UK – they are far from weak. 
▶ There is a vibrant rolling stock market. Despite being entirely Open Access, Lumo has a brand-new fleet, funded by a leasing company.
▶ Track Access Charges are much lower, especially for new Open Access services – unlike the 17.7% increase that is foreseen in Germany next year.
Conclusion: Open Access works – but sadly, we are still a long way from achieving Lumo-style newcomers in the EU.