West Coast fiasco costs £50m

The latest reports on the mishandling of the West Coast Main Line competition has found the Department for Transport guilty of 'basic errors', expected to cost the taxpayer at least £50 million.

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Rail franchise bid suffered from 'lack of leadership'

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge MP, has strongly criticised the Department for Transport's handling of the West Coast Main Line competition.

She said that "no single person" had been in charge of the bidding process, and that for a period of three months "there was no single person in charge at all".

The franchising process was littered with basic errors. The department yet again failed to learn from previous disasters, like the Metronet contract. It failed to heed advice from its lawyers. It failed to respond appropriately to early warning signs that things were going wrong.

Senior management did not have proper oversight of the project. Cuts in staffing and in consultancy budgets contributed to a lack of key skills.

The project suffered from a lack of leadership.

– margaret hodge, chair, public accounts committee

'Basic errors' in West Coast Main Line bidding process

MPs have called for the Department for Transport to "get its house in order" after uncovering "basic errors" in the way it run the West Coast franchise competition.

The department was forced to reverse its decision to award the £5 billion franchise to FirstGroup last October after a legal challenge from rival bidder Virgin Group.

The latest report by the Public Accounts Committee finds that managers had no oversight in the bidding process and failed to respond to early warning signs that things were going wrong.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said the competition would cost the taxpayer £50 million "at the very least".


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