DfT rail deal official hits back

A senior Department of Transport official suspended over the mishandling of the West Coast Main Line rail franchise contract as hit out at her own department for "inaccurately portraying" her role and overstating her responsibility.

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Suspended transport official issues statement

Suspended Department for Transport Kate Mingay has issued a statement following the cancellation of FirstGroup's West Coast Main Line deal, in which she states her role has been "inaccurately portrayed".

I would like to make it clear that: I did not have lead responsibility for this project; Neither I nor any member of my team had any responsibility for the economic modelling for this project, or for any Department for Transport project; Nor did I have any responsibility for the financial modelling in respect of this project and I have not been involved in briefing Department for Transport ministers or other government ministers in respect of this project.

I will of course cooperate fully with all ongoing and future investigatory processes in relation to this matter, but wanted to correct the completely inaccurate portrayal of my role immediately.

– Kate Mingay

Civil service 'suffering' in some areas

Former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell, who retired last December, admitted the West Coast fiasco "does raise some issues about skills in the civil service".

He said civil servants who made mistakes should be held accountable, telling the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme:

There are civil servants up and down the country doing great jobs, but we are suffering some areas where there are skills shortages, in the commissioning area, in the procurement area.

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Civil service changes demanded in wake of rail fiasco

Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the West Coast main line rail fiasco exposed flaws in Whitehall processes.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "It exposes in a very stark way that the present conventions on accountability between civil servants and ministers to Parliament and the public aren't working.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge has demanded sweeping changes to the civil service amid the West Coast main line rail fiasco. Credit: PA Wire

"It's yet another example ... of where the civil servants themselves have not really captured and taken on the role that is expected of them in today's society."

She added: "The way you climb the greasy pole in the civil service is that you change your job every couple of years.

"That's a disaster and we need to leave people in post so they take proper responsibility for the very difficult and complex job they have to do.

"Then we have to open up this issue of accountability so they can't hide behind lack of accountability for not telling us what the outcomes are."

'Shambolic' government handling of West Coast bid

Holyrood's Transport Minister will today make a statement on the "shambolic" cancellation of the West Coast main line rail franchise.

Transport Minister Keith Brown Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Archive

Keith Brown is expected to outline his concerns about the handling of the UK Government u-turn which has cost taxpayers £40 million.

In the wake of the controversial decision, Mr Brown complained that the Scottish Government was given no warning of a decision which affects the country.

He said: "This is a shambolic situation that affects thousands of passengers in and out of Scotland."

Branson criticises ex-Transport Secretary

Sir Richard Branson criticised former Transport Secretary Justine Greening today after the government was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn on the West Coast Main Line rail franchise deal.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, the Virgin boss also claimed the Department for Transport had "certainly made the same mistake" with other bids.

The previous minister of transport [Ms Greening] should have just knocked the bid into touch some months ago but chose not to.

I don't know what went on inside the Department for Transport and whether the previous minister knew all the facts or not, but certainly we appreciate the fact they acknowledged that there were major faults in the system and they have stayed the system.

– Sir Richard Branson

When asked if Ms Greening was "incompetent," Sir Richard replied said, "I'd rather not comment on previous ministers".

Obviously, we believe that she should have looked into the situation a bit more carefully and reached the same conclusions that have been reached today maybe some months back but that's past history now.

– Sir Richard Branson

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Unions angry over West Coast fiasco

£60 million that could have been invested in services will be blown on reimbursing the bidders as the government admit they cannot add up.

With a mass of other franchises coming up over the next few years the whole process has to be called to a halt with Directly Operated Railways given a long term opportunity to sweep up this mess, just as they have successfully done on the East Coast.

– Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union

'Shocking' rail franchise fiasco

It isshocking that such a crucially important process has gone so seriously wrong.

Businesses need a stable, reliable rail network and certainty in the provisionof key infrastructure.

Government tendering processes must be whiter thanwhite, or firms will be deterred from applying to take contracts on, which willharm service delivery.

– Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors
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