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Dumfries MP describes West Coast Mainline franchise as "an utter shambles"

Dumfries and Galloway MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the West Coast Mainline, Russell Brown, has described the admission today (Wednesday) that there were flaws in the bidding process for the new West Coast Mainline franchise as "an utter shambles".

For the last few weeks the Government has been insisting that the bidding process, which saw First Group announced as taking over from Virgin as the new operator of the West Coast Mainline, was fair, despite growing concerns.

The decision to scrap the new franchise, which emerged in the early hours of this morning, means the bidding process will need to be re-run.

"This is an utter shambles and a real humiliation for the Government. The West Coast Mainline is the UK's busiest rail route, and it beggars belief that it's future is being dealt with in such an incompetent way.

"The Government's mishandling of this process shows they have been treating passengers with contempt. If it had not been for the prospect of court action forcing their hand they would have continued trying to bury the errors and mistakes.

"The Tory-led Government has serious questions to answer about how this fiasco was allowed to happen in the first place and why they have spent the last few weeks telling everyone the bid process was fine when it clearly was not. We also need to know how much taxpayers' money has been wasted on this failed bidding process and the subsequent attempt to defend the indefensible.

"This has thrown the rail franchising process into chaos. With 15 rail franchises up for renewal in the next few years people need confidence in the bidding process, but no one will be able to trust this Government again after this mess."

– Dumfries and Galloway MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the West Coast Mainline, Russell Brown

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