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West Coast mistakes lead to questions over East Coast franchise

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 officials suspended over West Coast fiasco

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.

"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."

– Spokesman for Department for Transport

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West Coast blunder will cost £40m

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin blames Whitehall for West Coast fiasco Credit: PA

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.

Transport Union secretary says West Coast should be 'renationalised'

"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."

– Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT Transport Union

Sir Richard Branson reacts to DfT's decision

"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."

– Sir Richard Branson, Virgin
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