Latest Rail News

20.04.18

Grayling threatened with legal action over East Coast rail franchise failings

Campaigners are threatening to take transport secretary Chris Grayling to court over his failure to stop the companies behind the failed Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) from bidding for other franchises in future.

Bring Back British Rail has teamed up with public law expert Leigh Day to hold Grayling to account for his decision to allow Stagecoach and Virgin to “simply walk away” and run other franchises. For example, the two transport giants were recently awarded a two-year extension on the West Coast contract.

The VTEC fiasco has been gathering much attention since last year, when the transport secretary confirmed that the franchise was going to end in 2020 – three years earlier than planned – at which point a new operator would run the service under a public-private agreement.

In response, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson hit out at Network Rail early this year, blaming the organisation for failing to live up to major promises it had made on vital infrastructure improvements.

Later on, in early February, Grayling admitted that the franchise could be only a “small number of months” from collapsing. He told ministers at the Commons that the government might have to take control of the failing operation and revealed that the operators had breached a “key financial covenant.”

Since then, a formal inquiry has been launched by the Transport Committee into the fiasco, which would mark the third time the East Coast franchise has collapsed in just over 10 years.

Now, campaigners are arguing that the service should never have been re-privatised in 2015 and have hired lawyers to take Grayling to court. Leigh Day has written to the secretary of state requesting him to confirm whether he will revoke the Franchise Passports granted to Stagecoach and Virgin, and whether the costs of terminating the franchise “have in fact been met or could be expected to be met by the fulfilment of Stagecoach’s obligations.”

While they expect this to be a “landmark judicial review case” that will expose the “farce of rail franchising for the shameful waste of public money that it is,” the DfT thinks differently. Grayling’s office said in a statement that there “is no basis for legal action.”

“Virgin Stagecoach have met all of their financial commitments as set out in the East Coast franchise agreements,” a spokesman claimed.

Campaigners are hoping to raise £15,000 to pay for the initial costs of taking this action, but want to raise another £15,000 to cover all potential cost liability in case of a full legal challenge. At time of publication, almost 400 people had already pledged over £7,500.

(Top image c. Dominic Lipinski, PA Wire)

Enjoying RTM? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Bid to reopen Bristol line rejected by DfT

18/05/2018Bid to reopen Bristol line rejected by DfT

Proposals to fund the re-opening of a Somerset rail line have been halted by the government’s refusal to finance the plans. As part of... more >
Welsh trains £200k makeover set to start

18/05/2018Welsh trains £200k makeover set to start

Work begins today on an 18-month programme to modernise fleets of Welsh trains. A £200,000 investment from Arriva Trains Wales (ATW), ... more >
Every single service affected by major GTR timetable shakeup

18/05/2018Every single service affected by major GTR timetable shakeup

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will change the times of every single service as part of its Rail Plan 20/20 programme. In order to run an additi... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... more >
Modernising journeys in north east England

09/11/2017Modernising journeys in north east England

First Hull Trains is about to embark on the biggest fleet overhaul it has delivered since being set up in 2000. Managing director Will Dunnett te... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE Biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed looks at how biometric technology is already starting to enh... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Rail: A woman’s world

18/05/2018Rail: A woman’s world

RTM’s Sacha Rowlands reports from a panel debate where six of the industry’s leading figures convened to discuss the fundamental issu... more >
Gordon Wakeford: The rail industrial revolution

18/05/2018Gordon Wakeford: The rail industrial revolution

Gordon Wakeford, managing director of the Siemens Mobility Division, explains how the company plans to make Yorkshire the base for the new U... more >
A year of change for the north

18/05/2018A year of change for the north

Achieving statutory status represents a landmark moment for northern transport and will have an enormous impact on what be achieved over the comi... more >
Make way for the D-Train

15/05/2018Make way for the D-Train

Adrian Shooter, chairman of Vivarail and former chairman of Chiltern Railways, provides an exclusive update on D-Train technology and talks about... more >