Branson had 'been in dialogue' with Government before rail decision

Sir Richard Branson has denied claims from the Transport Secretary Justine Greening that he only raised concerns over the West Coast main line rail franchise after Virgin lost the bid.

In a letter to the Financial Times, Sir Richard wrote:

The truth is we did and have been in dialogue with the Department for Transport for more than two years on the issues around the invitation to tender.

Furthermore, we had expressed our views to the Conservatives in several meetings while they were in opposition.

In particular, we focused on the assessment and deliverability of risks involved in such long and volatile franchises, as well as seeking assurances on our long held view that bids were typically won by aggressive revenue commitments from bidders relying on good spreadsheet skills rather than good rail business sense.

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Taxpayers' £50m West Coast bill

Taxpayers will face a "significant" bill of around £50m over the West Coast rail franchise fiasco, the Government's spending watchdog has warned.