Condemnation has rained down on the Department for Transport which has admitted it made "completely unacceptable" mistakes over the handling of bidding for the West Coast Mainline franchise.
The Department for Transport admits that its staff made serious mistakes when awarding FirstGroup the franchise ahead of Virgin Trains. Put simply they didn't look properly at the financial risks associated with the bid.
Officials' have been suspended and the Secretary of State for Transport has apologised - as he scrapped the decision to award the contract ot First Group.
It's going to cost taxpayers at least £40million. The debacle has raised serious questions not only about THIS franchise but also those awarded in the recent past to companies operating on the East Coast Main Line.
Three Department for Transport civil servants have been suspended following mistakes made in the now-scrapped West Coast Main Line franchise.
The announcement came after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin laid the blame for the fiasco "wholly and squarely" on the DfT.
The errors came to light after Sir Richard Branson launched a legal challenge when Virgin Trains lost out to FirstGroup in the recent competition to operate the route.
– Spokesman for Department for Transport
"Three officials involved in the West Coast franchise competition were today suspended by the Permanent Secretary while the full facts are established.
"No further details will be issued at this time about the suspensions."
The Transport Secretary has said that cancelling the competition to run the West Coast Main Line will cost the taxpayer £40 million.
Patrick McLoughlin said the U-turn on the West Coast Mail Line rail franchise award was "wholly and squarely" down to a Whitehall fault.
– Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT Transport Union
"The whole sorry and expensive shambles of rail privatisation has been dragged into the spotlight this morning and, instead of re-running this expensive circus, the West Coast route should be renationalised on a permanent basis."
– Sir Richard Branson, Virgin
"I took a call this evening in New York from the UK Secretary of State for Transport, telling me that he will no longer be awarding the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup.
"From the moment we found out that FirstGroup had been made the preferred bidder with a completely unrealistic bid, we questioned the way the offers had been assessed.
"I am pleased to say that the DfT has looked at all of the facts and found significant flaws in the way it's officials handled the process.
"They have basically acknowledged that what we had been saying is correct."
– Statement from Virgin
"We welcome today's frank announcement by the Secretary of State, acknowledging the flaws in the way the InterCity West Coast competition was assessed and launching a review into franchising more widely.
"We are ready to play a full part in assisting the review to help deliver a franchising system that better serves passengers, taxpayers and the interests of all bidders.
In the meantime, we will assist the Department for Transport in ensuring continuity of service for the millions of customers who depend on train services on the West Coast mainline."