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.
Today's interim report shows just how important our calls were in the summer to find out what went on behind closed doors when deciding the future operator of the West Coast franchise and that it should be opened up to proper detailed scrutiny.
As well as the technical errors the review has identified, it raises fundamental questions around why more favourable treatment was given to one bidder over another and the lack of a clear and consistent account of how and what decisions were made.
All of this is a matter of serious concern and we hope these issues will be explored in greater detail in the final report by Sam Laidlaw.
Regardless of the catalogue of problems identified with the assessment process itself, we remain very clear that our own bid was robust and deliverable.
Lessons must be learned to prevent the process failures we saw with the West Coast competition from happening again and to protect the taxpayer and passengers from phoney bids that game the system.
Mr McLoughlin said the report made "uncomfortable reading" and outlined its findings.
He told the Commons:
It is clear that the inquiry has identified a number of issues which confirm that my decision to cancel the franchise competition was necessary.
These include a lack of transparency in the bidding process, the fact that published guidance was not complied with when bids were being processed, inconsistencies in the treatment of bidders and confirmation of technical flaws in the model used to calculate the amount of risk capital bidders were asked to provide to guard against the risk of default.
The Laidlaw inquiry also mentions factors "that appear to have caused or contributed to the issues raised".
Four Cabinet ministers have their fingerprints on the West Coast Mainline "franchise fiasco", Labour claimed in the Commons today.
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, his predecessor and current International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond have all played a role.
Do you agree ministers must take responsibility for serious or systematic performance failures, flawed policy and poor design?
Ministers must not be allowed to shuffle off responsibility - not my words but the words of the Prime Minister. This isn't just a faulty process, it's a faulty Government.
Patrick McLoughlin has read some of the interim findings from the Laidlaw report in to what went wrong with the West Coast mainline bidding process.
"In the limited time available this is necessarily only a preliminary report. What is clear however is that in seeking to run a complex and novel franchising competition process, an accumulation of significant errors, described in the report, resulted in a flawed process.
“These errors appear to have been caused by factors including inadequate planning and preparation, a complex organisational structure and a weak governance and quality assurance framework.
"The full causes and the lessons to be learnt will be addressed in the final report of my independent Inquiry to be published at the end of November.
“Firm judgements should not be made based upon what are provisional findings or wider conclusions drawn at this stage.”