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30.10.12

McLoughlin reports West Coast errors to Commons

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the House of Commons the Laidlaw report into the West Coast franchising errors confirmed he had been right to scrap the competition in October.

Presenting the findings of the report on Monday, McLoughlin highlighted the problems identified so far included a lack of transparency, inconsistencies in treatment of bidders and failure to follow guidelines. Additionally, technical flaws were found in the model used to calculate the amount of risk capital required.

The Laidlaw report suggested that cost-cutting had reduced the head count of people within the department, which affected their ability to cope with the workload.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle said: “However the secretary of state spins it, this is a franchise fiasco with not one but four cabinet ministers fingerprints all over it.”

A spokesperson for FirstGroup said: “We are extremely disappointed and dissatisfied that, as a result of government's reversal of its decision, taxpayers and West Coast passengers will not benefit from the better deal that our strong bid would have delivered.”

Virgin’s spokesperson commented: “Today’s interim report shows just how important our calls were in the summer to find out what went on behind closed doors when deciding the future operator of the west coast franchise and that it should be opened up to proper detailed scrutiny.

“As well as the technical errors the review has identified, it raises fundamental questions around why more favourable treatment was given to one bidder over another and the lack of a clear and consistent account of how and what decisions were made.”

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

(Photo: PA Wire)

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