Plans for West Coast main line announced

The Transport Secretary has outlined plans for the future of the West Coast Main Line, following the scrapping of the competition to run the route.

Earlier this month, the Government was forced to admit to serious flaws in its franchising process.

The current contract, with Virgin, runs out on the 8th December.

Now, Patrick McLoughlin is proposing a three stage solution to the question of who will run trains after that date.

  • The government is asking Virgin to continue running services for 9 to 13 months
  • The Government will invite bids for an interim franchise lasting for about 2 years
  • That will give time for a new long term franchise to be decided

Mr McLoughlin told MPs he was determined that passengers would see no difference to their services as a result of the Government's mistakes.

The Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle told Mr McLoughlin that his announcement should have been an opportunity to put things right.

Instead, she said his plans add to the 'chaos and confusion'.

She said the potential for three separate franchises risked greater costs to taxpayers.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron told the House of Commons that he was concerned that the short interim franchise would lead to a lack of investment, as the holder would be disinclined to spend money.

Mr McLoughlin said hew as confident that wouldn't be the case.

The rail union, the RMT, has described the announcement as 'short term political fix'. It again called for the railways to be put back in public hands; 'free from the chaos and greed of privatisation'.