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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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West Coast rail franchise ‘fiasco’

AN investigations is being carried out into the West Coast rail franchise “fiasco”.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that he was cancelling the competition for the running of the franchise “because of deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes made by my department in the way it managed the process”.

The controversial deal would have seen Sir Richard Branson’s train company lose its franchise. He had mounted a High Court challenge against the decision.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle MP said the franchise process had been a “fiasco”.

Mr McLoughlin has just taken over at the DfT from Justine Greening.

Until yesterday, he and Ms Greening had said they were satisfied with the West Coast bidding franchise which culminated with the award, following a four-company bidding battle, to FirstGroup in August.

In an announcement put out at midnight on Tuesday, Mr McLoughlin said: “I have had to cancel the competition for the running of the West Coast franchise because of deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes made by my department in the way it managed the process.”

He assured passengers trains will continue to run as planned.

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