CHRIS Grayling was told to open the railways up to “airline style” competition – to cut inter-city fares in HALF.

A think tank said passengers on Britain’s four biggest long distance routes were being ripped off because the Government allows a single monopoly franchise to operate the route.

In a report backed by senior Tories, the Adam Smith Institute claims fares could be cut by as much as 55 per cent if two or more train companies could slug it out on the same routes – such as East Coast Mainline.

It said full, airline-style “open access” would force companies to offer lower fares and “far better” customer care. In the UK only 1 per cent of routes allow open access.

The report piles pressure on the Transport Secretary to fast-track a review of the current public-private franchise system.

Martin Vickers, the Tory chair of the cross-parliament group on rail, said: “We are currently experiencing record levels of investment in UK rail.

“However the rail industry has been reformed to an unsatisfactory halfway house between nationalisation and privatisation.

“The solution is not to nationalise the whole system but to expand the role of the market by creating more opportunities.”

The report is also backed by John Penrose, a Tory Minister for Northern Ireland.

The think tank centred its report on the East Coast Mainline, West Coast Mainline, the Great Western Mainline from London to Bristol and Midland Mainline from London to South Yorkshire.

It said commuter routes into the capital were too busy to allow more services – for now. The report comes after one of the worst week’s in Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s career.

He faced fresh calls to quit after the Government was forced to shell out £33million in No Deal compensation to Eurotunnel.

Tory council bosses claimed he had misled the nation over Heathrow’s third runway.

They claim that new jet noise maps published by the airport reveal up to 47 flights per hour might pass over huge swathes of London and southern England that are not currently overflown.