Chapter 9: Rolling stock companies (Roscos): experience from Great Britain
The creation of passenger railway rolling stock companies (Roscos) – which occurred as part of the privatization of British Rail – represented a dramatic shift in the ownership structure of rail assets in Great Britain. In a heavily subsidized, privatized railway, there was little precedent as to how these assets would be regulated and how the market for rolling stock would operate. The three principal Roscos have undergone a challenging period since their creation. They have been subject to extensive public, political and regulatory scrutiny both at the time of their initial sale and as they have changed hands. Roscos have made a significant contribution to the growth of the rail sector in Great Britain through their effective management of rolling stock assets. They have contributed to wider improvements in the reliability and safety of the network, as well as facilitating the current rail franchise structures. In addition, Roscos have invested many millions of pounds into rolling stock assets. With the possibility of increased competition in the market, Roscos are arguably moving into a new era, with Britain continuing to lead the way in the private rolling stock market. The experience of Roscos in Great Britain provides insights not only into the benefits that governments can expect from pursuing a programme of rolling stock privatization, but also demonstrates the numerous challenges that may accompany ownership change and regulatory reform.
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