Latest Rail News

01.02.13

‘Hasty reform’ led to franchising fiasco – Transport Select Committee

The collapse of the West Coast Main Line franchise was caused by “irresponsible decisions, according to the Transport Select Committee.

Its new report calls for an explanation from the Government about why ministers and senior officials were misled about how subordinated loan facilities were calculated and a comprehensive breakdown of costs arising from the cancellation of the competition.

The committee also suggests the Government should complete a full email capture to get to the bottom of responsibility for the “serious errors” identified in the franchise award.

Committee chair Louise Ellman MP said: “This episode revealed substantial problems of governance, assurance, policy and resources inside the Department for Transport.

“Embarking on an ambitious – perhaps unachievable – reform of franchising, in haste, on the UK's most complex piece of railway, was an irresponsible decision for which ministers were ultimately responsible.

“This was compounded by major failures by civil servants, some of whom misled ministers.”

A DfT spokesman responded: “Independent experts concluded the collapse of the West Coast franchise programme was caused by a number of failures including inadequate planning and weak governance structure, but not systematic failings in the department.

“The examination of emails from key officials found no evidence that this was anything other than simple human error.

“We are putting in place measures that will prevent this embarrassing episode from happening again.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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