Virgin runs West Coast to 2017

The West Coast Mainline will be run by Virgin Trains until at least 2017, it's been announced.

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Dept of Transport extends Virgin's running of West Coast Main Line

Virgin Trains has announced on Twitter its franchise extension for the West Coast Main Line.

The Department of Transport confirmed this morning that the franchise contract will remain with Virgin Trains until it's renewed in 2017.


West Coast mainline scheme was unjustifiable say MPs

MPs have criticised the £50million cost to the taxpayer of the West Coast mainline fiasco.

The franchise process for the rail line linking Birmingham to the North and London was dramatically halted last October.

Today, MPs said the scheme was littered with basic errors with no single person put in charge.

Margaret Hodge, Committee Chair, said the Department of Transport was 'penny pinching' from the start.

Department for Transport responds to West Coast criticism

“The independent Laidlaw inquiry published in December identified the unique and exceptional circumstances which led to failures in the West Coast franchising programme and crucially what steps the Department should take to prevent this from happening again."

“The Department has accepted all the recommendations and has taken immediate steps by bringing together all rail activity under a single Director General and recruiting a senior director to lead the franchising programme, as well as improving internal governance and strengthening oversight and accountability. Not only will these reinforce the franchising process but will also protect rail infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the biggest programme of rail electrification.”

– Department for Transport spokesperson

RMT union responds to West Coast mainline cost announcement

"The stench from the fall out of the West Coast franchise continues to hang over Britain's transport industry as it becomes clearer with every examination that the ministers responsible for this shambles could not be trusted to run pitch at a car boot sale let alone multi-billion pound government contracts. No wonder the Thameslink/Siemens fleet contract remains unsigned nearly two years on with these jokers at the helm and the case for that work to go to Derby and not Germany remains rock solid."

"Underpinning all this is the fact that privatisation is a corrosive and expensive political project doomed to repeated and costly failure, twice on the East Coast and now on the West. Fiddling with processes won't work, its the whole, rotten policy that needs dumping with a return to public ownership. "

– Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary


Patrick McLoughlin: We made 'serious mistakes'

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is speaking at an annual gathering of rail industry experts in Derby.

It follows the West Coast mainline franchising fiasco, and Bombardier's failed bid to secure the Thameslink contract.

Addressing the forum, he said of the West Coast mainline contract:

My department did make some very serious mistakes, but I have taken action to put them right.

– The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

On the High Speed Rail link, he has said:

The biggest benefit of HS2 will be increased capacity.

– The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Dept for Transport scraps bidding competition for Great Western rail services

Credit: ITV News Central

The Department for Transport today scrapped the bidding competition for a 15-year franchise to run Great Western rail services – one of three to be suspended last October in the wake of the fiasco over the flawed award of the West Coast Main Line contract.

But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the two other competitions – for Essex Thameside and Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern – will be resumed, in a bid to breathe new life into a franchising system which was thrown into disarray by the West Coast debacle.

Unions accused Mr McLoughlin of taking a "sticking plaster" approach to a privatised system which should now be ditched.

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