Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (IT 183)


  Further to your letter of 26 November, we have now raised the questions regarding the car hire market with some of our major rental companies and would comment as follows:

    (1)  Experience with members' representation at major railway stations in the UK is very limited. There is very little direct representation. For example Budget Rent A Car says that they have a rental station only at Birmingham International Station which is open 7.00 am to 10.00 pm on weekdays and 8.00 am to 6.00 pm on Saturday and 11.00 am to 9.00 pm on Sunday. Other rental companies have no specific representation at railway stations but would make arrangements to meet anybody who had reserved a vehicle from a station in order to collect a vehicle from the nearest City Centre branch.

      Having said that, members' experience shows that Central London stations are well served by the underground network and access to Central London rental locations. However companies would deliver a vehicle to a railway station to a customer on request.

  We are not aware of any railway and car hire outlets operating outside office hours. Service could be provided on an extended hour basis if there was sufficient volume such as there is at airports.

    (2)  Experience currently shows that a traveller is more likely to use a train for a longer journey, e.g., from London to Manchester or Edinburgh. Car hire would then be used at the end of the rail journey to give flexibility and independence. This market is currently too small to support extended opening hours, as stated above. However some members believe that the solution may lie in the increased use of "smart key machines" where keys would be left for a customer and would then be accessed from a safe using a PIN number. Of course, secure compounds for the vehicles would have to be available.

      The lack of volume in the rail/car hire market currently makes it too difficult to justify opening an operation dedicated solely to the rail market. Any rail location would need volume from outside the station to justify it. There is also a problem in terms of inconvenience of parking at stations, limited timetables and the fact that many customers have a number of meetings within a journey thereby making it difficult to go to and from one station.

      Members report that they are experiencing increasing rentals to renters living in urban areas such as Central London. The customer collects the car from a location within the City Centre on Friday returning Sunday night or Monday morning.

      It is also worth noting that demand for car hire rises dramatically especially in London at the time of Rail or Underground strikes. This shows that for many car hire seems an alternative to rail travel.

    (3)  We are not aware of any research that has been undertaken into the potential size of the rail/car hire market.

    (4)  We are not aware of any discussions with train operators and railtrack about developing this market. Members believe that any discussions on this would initially be on a local basis.

  We trust that this assists you in your enquiries and please do not hesitate to contact me if we can give you any further information.

Norman Donkin

Director General

3 March 1999

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