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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Government scraps West Coast Mainline deal with FirstGroup

A contract to run trains on the West Coast Mainline has been scrapped after flaws were found in the way the franchise process was conducted.

Have your say

Now then Rod, lets see if we can disassemble your thoughts. The shambles of the awarding of the west coast main line was carried out under the 2005 railways act. All the conditions of the awarding of the franchise etc.
The awarding of the franchises initially was done by an independent body. This worked fairly well. We have seen some pretty impressive improvements in the initial franchises.
The government in 1999 removed this independence and set up the strategic rail authority. The consequences were so appalling that the government were forced on their sword to abandon the SRA and took the whole awarding of franchises in house to the department of transport in the 2005 act.

This is where we are. You dont actually think a Minister of the Crown goes through all the contract awarding, goes through all the fine print, the due diligence etc? The tens of millions of pounds spent by the two companies bidding for the contract would have resulted in franchise documents five times the size of the Bible at least.

That is what civil servants do (under the 2005 act), they sift through the bids, check everything is correct and summarise the two bids to the minister with a probable recommendation.

The minister then makes a decision based on the information given to him.

Who would have thought that a bunch of civil servants (who are probably quite talented in other ways) could not manage such a large commercial undertaking?

This isnt the fault of a government or a minister. Your petty pathetic point scoring shows how sad and desperate you are.

This contract is worth around £13,300,000,000 (£13.3 billion). The difference between First Group and Virgin to the taxpayer was £2,200,000,000(£2.2 billion). In that context £40,000,000 (£40 million) is chicken feed, pennies in comparison.

So yes. If £40 million wasted results in a better deal overall, then it is money well wasted.

Posted by Bob on 8 October 2012 at 16:12

I bet most of the people moaning on here don't even catch the trains!!!

Posted by Alan Chinyer on 4 October 2012 at 12:55

it doesn't matter who runs the railways if there are no passengers on the trains then there is no revenue!! lower the ticket prices and more people will use the trains, even more so with the high price of petrol and the short journey times on the train

Posted by albert on 4 October 2012 at 12:44

well said craig, it seems the actual way bids are accepted is where all this went wrong. Basic maths - is there bid realistic and and the terms of the deal, we will pay a lump sum at the end of the franchise seems to be crazy seeing as they hand back other franchises just as the money is due..I would hope Virgin keep running this line as they seem to be giving reasonable customer satisfaction. Im sure other rail travellers can comment on other train companies but i've heard Virgin was best for comfort and reliability. The other point is how does it cost £60 million to bid for a franchise! Now lets trot out the famous words "lessons will be learned from this"..

Posted by Paul on 3 October 2012 at 20:16

BM & Craig I agree completly in fact I would go further I would take back all the countries accets sold of by Thatchers Tories.because all of them have been a bad deal to the majority of Britain,just look at the price of electricity,gas and utilities for example.

Posted by robert on 3 October 2012 at 18:14

Privatization has indeed been a stunning success - for the shareholders. As others have pointed out, OUR money is being used to subsidize a private business. Re nationalization is long overdue.

As to this current debacle, it's no use trying to let the blame rest with civil servants - ultimately this is a Government responsibility. Civil servants don't act independently of their ministerial masters - Ministers must carry the can.

Posted by Evil McBad on 3 October 2012 at 18:12

Privatisation of the railways - a stunning success?
the truth is the privatised railways have four times the subsidy British Rail had - We have some of the highest rail fares in Europe and come January 2013 they are set to rocket again.
Improvements to the West Coast Main Line were carried out by tax payer funded Network Rail and the Pendolino and Voyager trains are leased they are not owned by Virgin so that puts their record straight!
First Grouyps bid was seen by the Unions and many rail insiders as unrealistic - but the Tories ploughed on saying it was a robust process that they had every confidence in!!! now look at this mess - £60million by some estimates (more from others) thrown down the drain by the austerity government that claims every cut they are making is essential... yet £60m is simply lost on the alter of failed privatisation.
when it comes to investment that's a terrible waste - but when it comes to investment only around 1% of all investment in our railways since pirateisation has came from the privateers.

It's obvious Virgin and First would fight like ferrets in a sack over the spoils of privatisation but for most of us humble tax payers the complicated franchise arrangements are more like a mystery tour!

First are handing back a franchise in the South West of England rather than pay £800million to the government to continue running it...and they can still pick up the WCML franchise???
In a recent poll over 70% of the British Public were in favour of renationalisation - after the west coast main line debacle that figure can only increase - and that day can't come soon enough - for passengers and tax payers alike.

Posted by Craig Johnston on 3 October 2012 at 16:10

Robert: Yet another staggering example of governmental incompetence. I hazard a guess that it was only some digging for a defence to Virgin's high court challenge that unearthed the shoddy maths. Time for a complete rethink of the railways. The East Coast profits are now being returned to the treasury instead of shareholders...why not do this everywhere and return the monies to the country's coffers instead of the tycoons' pockets? Privatisation / franchising of the railways hasn't worked.

Posted by BM on 3 October 2012 at 16:09

Those who are in office be they Labour or Tory are being paid to ensure their departments are run properly in this case despite civil servants being held to blame those we place in charge have failed to ensure their departments have conducted the process properly.The Goverment are placed in office to govern by the voters of this country why bother if we are to blame civil servants a bad workman will allways blame his tools the civil sevants are the tools of the Minister of Transport.

Posted by robert on 3 October 2012 at 15:04

I agree with the comments made below by PH.
The "faults" in the franchise application system are unforgivable and should have been ironed out before the process was opened up. Probably yet another example of a Government Department trying to do big things based on input from inappropriate expensive consultants paid for by the innocent taxpayers and contributing to the debts of this country.It is time these experts were put out to grass and the jobs done by those who know how the systems actually work.

Posted by city resident on 3 October 2012 at 14:44

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