- 26 updates
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP told the House of Commons that Virgin will continue to run the West Coast Main Line for the next nine to thirteen months. He said passengers would "see no impact" of the mistakes made by the Government.
"I am committed to ensuring passengers see no impact as the result of these mistakes. [...] Clearly we need to learn the lessons from the two reviews and will need to run a new competition for the West Coast franchise"
FirstGroup, which had originally won the bidding for the West Coast Main Line before the Government's U-turn, has issued a statement after Virgin was offered an extension as the line's operator while the bidding is re-run.
The company makes no reference to Virgin, instead focusing on the future bidding for the line and, in particular, the findings of two independent reviews set up by the Department of Transport after the first West Coast franchise competition was halted.
The leader of the RMT transport union, Bob Crow, has attacked the Government's decision to extend Virgin's control of the West Coast Main Line while a franchise bidding process is run again.
The union wants the West Coast franchise to be run by the Department of Transport in the public sector as is the case, at the moment, with the East Coast franchise. Mr Crow said:
Mr Crow added:
- In August, the Government announced Virgin had lost out to transport company FirstGroup in the bidding war to run a new 13-year West Coast franchise.
- Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson reacted angrily to the decision, branding the bidding process "insane" and launching a legal challenge.
- While preparing for the legal challenge, the Department of Transport discovered "significant technical flaws" in the franchise bidding.
- Three civil servants are suspended as a result and the bidding competition is halted on October 3, crowning an embarrassing U-turn for the Government.
- Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin tells a Commons Select Committee he was happy with the way the bidding had been conducted.
- Virgin has today been offered an extension to run West Coast services for a "short period" of nine to 13 months while the bidding process is re-run.
Latest ITV News reports
Rail operator Virgin has been asked to continue running the West Coast mainline for another few months after a Government U-turn.
One railway line, one fudged bid, three more sets of negotations and three years to put it right.