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Names removed from independent report into rail franchise fiasco

An independent report into the West Coast Rail franchise fiasco was changed by the Department of Transport before it was published.

MPs have been hearing evidence about how the bid to run the line through the Midlands collapsed.

Virgin Trains lost the Government contract to rivals FirstGroup in August, but the deal was scrapped after Ministers admitted there were flaws in the bidding process.

Today it's been revealed that names of civil servants involved were removed from a report published earlier this month.

Author of West Coast report to give evidence today

Virgin is expected to continue to run the line for a further 12 months Credit: Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images

The author of the report into the government's handling of the West Coast Main Line franchise contract is due to give evidence today.

Ministers had initially awarded the contract to FirstGroup, but the deal was scrapped after significant technical flaws were found in the bidding process.

Virgin is expected to continue to run the line for a further 12 months in the meantime.

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Faster trains from Birmingham to London full report

New, faster train services have begun today between Birmingham and London. Chiltern Railways says its route is rivalling Virgin's West Coast mainline and it wants to win over some business commuters.

Virgin says it welcomes competition. But it says its London services are still faster and more frequent . Keith Wilkinson reports.

Chiltern Railways launch faster Birmingham to London service

Chiltern Railways in Birmingham
Chiltern Railways in Birmingham Credit: ITV Central

Chiltern Railways have launched a new, faster service from Birmingham's business district, Birmingham Snow Hill, to London's Marylebone station.

The journey time will be reduced by 22 minutes and it will offer the first service of the day out of Birmingham to London.

They will also be offering peak morning and evening trains, with all trains leaving London between 5.30pm and 10.00pm, stopping at Birmingham Snow Hill.

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Failed West Coast Contract could cost taxpayer millions

A Virgin Train at a platform alongside a FirstGroup carriage
A Virgin Train at a platform alongside a FirstGroup carriage Credit: PA

The taxpayer could pay at least 40 million pounds for the mishandling of the West Coast Mainline Rail franchise.

Virgin Trains had lost out on the deal to First Group, but it was scrapped after flaws were found in the bidding process.

Yesterday Sir Richard Branson's firm was told it would run the route for the next two years.

National

Transport Sec 'taking swift action' over West Coast Main Line

The government's transport secretary has said that his department is taking "swift action" regarding the controversy surrounding the West Coast rail franchise.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

"The NAO has made a number of recommendations that mirror many of the findings of the Laidlaw Inquiry in terms of the work we need to do to strengthen our organisation and the structures within it.

"We are already taking swift action on this front and I believe the plans we are putting in place to ensure future franchise competitions are conducted on the basis of sound planning, the rigorous identification and oversight of risk, will prevent a repeat of these lamentable failures."

Commuters give views on West Coast Mainline fiasco

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced Virgin are to operate the West Coast Mainline until November 2014.

Virgin had been set to lose the West Coast contract which it has been operating since 1997 but the Government scrapped the bidding after faults by the Department for Transport were found with the bidding process.

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