Latest Rail News

15.10.12

Virgin gets West Coast franchise extension after DfT fiasco

West Coast incumbent Virgin will be asked to continue to run services for 9-13 months, after the decision to award the contract to FirstGroup was overturned.

The Government is planning to enter negotiations with Virgin for a temporary contract whilst a new competition is run. The decision was cancelled on October 3, after “technical flaws” came to light in the process.

Other franchises up for renewal have also been suspended and are under review. The estimated cost of reimbursement for the scrapping of the contract is £40m.

DfT said: “The Government believes that this is the best way to ensure services are maintained and that there is no impact on passengers.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin was making a decision about whether the DOR should run the line, or whether Virgin’s contract should be extended. It is believed that there was not thought to be enough time to transfer all staff, contracts and rolling stock before December 9.

FirstGroup has not ruled out a legal challenge over Virgin being granted an extension.

McLoughlin said: “My priority now is to fix the problem and the first step is to take urgent action to ensure that... services continue to run to the same standard and passengers are not affected.

“I believe Virgin remaining as operator for a short period of time is the best way to do this and my officials and I will be working flat out to make this happen.”

McLoughlin will announce further details of the new contract this afternoon in the House of Commons. The next franchise competition is expected to be an interim agreement that will run for only two years, with a longer-term contract to be let at the time of the next general election.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow commented: “Richard Branson and his shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank. This short term political fix will not detract from the call for rail to be run as a public service free from the chaos and greed of privatisation.

“We could end up with the nightmare of three different franchise holders in a few years on our most high profile rail route while tens of millions of pounds is wasted on the franchise merry go round and thousands of staff are caught in the cross fire.”

FirstGroup said today: “We believe the private sector provides the most effective and efficient way to deliver passenger rail services in the UK. We await the outcome of the independent investigations into the West Coast franchise competition and the wider rail franchising process, which we hope will provide a greater degree of certainty and confidence not only to future bidders but to employees, stakeholders and the travelling public too.”

A Virgin Trains spokesman said: “Our customers have made clear they want us to continue our excellent service and we now have the chance to deliver that and offer customers some short-term continuity.

“We will now be working hard to make sure we continue to provide the service that has made us successful. We are grateful for the fantastic support from customers and staff over recent months.”

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

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

  • 11/09/2019The next generation of rail infrastructure

    How the rail industry delivers the next generation of complex infrastructure will rely heavily on the people tasked with leading the projects, and the technology they use to do it. Faithful+Gould...
  • 11/09/2019Putting passengers first

    How does the rail industry design the railways for the next 40 years, and when it does, how do we make sure it’s all done with the passenger in mind? Jane Fisher joined three members of the Arup team...
View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

17/09/2019Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

Continuing our mission to connect buyers with suppliers, This year TransCityRail North is adding a new element to the event. We are introducing an incomparable opportunity for you to meet with over 11 procurement directors from Network Rail... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >