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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Miliband hits out at West Coast 'fiasco'

Labour leader Ed Miliband told BBC Radio 5 Live that the West Coast Main Line decision is a "fiasco" which brought the Government's competence into question.

When you look at the latest fiasco with the West Coast Main Line - another Government screw-up, another Government mistake, another case of them blaming someone else, apparently they are saying it is the fault of their civil servants - I think competence is an issue.

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Twitter users pleased Virgin to keep contract

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I spoke to a train driver two weekends ago at a wedding. He said Virgin Trains were pretty poor but First would be much worse.

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The fact so many are happy about the west coast mainline deal vein scrapped gives you an indication of how good virgin trains are.

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After experiencing such fantastic service on Virgin Trains yesterday it's great to hear that they're #backontrack and keeping the contract!

Timeline of West Coast rail franchise saga

  • 1997: Virgin Rail begins running the West Coast Main Line after being awarded a 15-year contract.
  • 2011: The Department for Transport (DfT) invites bids from companies interested in taking over the rail franchise from Virgin in December 2012.
  • Aug 15 2012: The DfT awards the franchise to FirstGroup. More than 150,000 people sign an online petition calling for the decision to be reconsidered.
  • Aug 27 2012: Labour and Sir Richard Branson urge the Government to delay signing the contract. The DfT says there is "no reason" to delay.

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Virgin Trains 'welcome' DfT's rail franchise decision

We welcome today's frank announcement by the Secretary of State, acknowledging the flaws in the way the InterCity West Coast competition was assessed and launching a review into franchising more widely.

We are ready to play a full part in assisting the review to help deliver a franchising system that better serves passengers, taxpayers and the interests of all bidders.

In the meantime, we will assist the Department for Transport in ensuring continuity of service for the millions of customers who depend on train services on the West Coast mainline.

– Virgin Trains statement

Labour: Rail decision shows 'shambolic incompetence' of Government

The West Coast rail franchise fiasco has yet again exposed the shambolic incompetence of this Tory-led government.

Ministers have spent weeks refusing to listen to Labour's call to suspend the award of this contract to enable an independent review to take place.

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

Sir Richard Branson 'pleased' with DfT's decision

I am pleased to say that the DfT has looked at all of the facts and found significant flaws in the way it's officials handled the process. They have basically acknowledged that what we had been saying is correct. The same procedures were not followed and "deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes" were made by the Department.

At the House of Commons Select Committee we called for all franchise competitions to be paused and a thorough, independent review of the process. We are grateful that Patrick McLoughlin is now doing this.

We also appreciate the DfT publicly acknowledging these errors, and are hopeful they will now accept that Virgin Trains should carry on running the West Coast Main Line and ensure that passengers continue receiving our team's award-winning service.

– Sir Richard Branson
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