A 'sorry and expensive shambles'

Politicians, consumer groups and trade unions have all lined up to criticise the government over its handling of the West Coast Mainline franchise process.

"The whole sorry and expensive shambles of rail privatisation has been dragged into the spotlight this morning and instead of rerunning this expensive circus, the West Coast route should be renationalised on a permanent basis."

– Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT transport union.

"Only last week the Transport Secretary repeated his claim that the process was conducted properly and he would hand over the franchise to First on time, despite all the concerns that had been raised.

"The Government's belated admission that it ran a flawed tendering process will come as a surprise to no one."

– Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle MP.

"This extraordinary announcement highlights the weaknesses in the franchise process. It's a process that puts finance first rather than passengers, but now it seems we can't even rely on the numbers for that.

"The Government's review of franchises must now be used to look at how we can get rail services that meet passengers' needs and grow and improve our railway."

– Richard Hebditch, The Campain for Better Transport

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Rail franchise bids halted

The future of rail services in the south-east has been thrown into disarray after ministers called a halt to several franchise competitions.