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West Coast Main Line competition cancelled

The competition to run trains on the West Coast Main Line has been cancelled following the discovery of significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced.

The decision means the Department for Transport (DfT) will no longer be awarding a franchise contract to run the West Coast service when the current franchise expires in December.

FirstGroup was due to take over the running of the London to Scotland line after being awarded the contract by the DfT in August, but Virgin Rail, which currently runs the service, launched a High Court challenge against the decision

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West Coast Mainline deal on hold

Virgin train on West Coast Mainline Credit: PA

Legal action by Virgin Rail has stopped the Government signing a contract awarding the West Coast Mainline franchise, which runs through Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway, to a rival bidder.

MPs were told by the Rail Minister, the Government would "robustly" defend the case following the decision to award the contract to FirstGroup.

Theresa Villiers told MPs in a written statement "As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live"

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Cumbria flood alerts still in place, and minor delays on A595

The Environment Agency has flood alerts in place for the Rivers Ehen, Calder, Irt and Esk, and also for the Upper Derwent from Seathwaite to Derwent Water. This means more flooding is possible but not imminent.

The overnight floods in the Egremont area are causing a minor delay of 10 minutes on the A595 southbound down the Cumbrian coast.

They have already caused serious problems overnight: a train derailed at 7:20am near Nethertown because of a landslide, and high floodwaters in Beckermet have left a bridge unstable in the middle of the village; Morass Road is still closed.

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