Latest Rail News

04.09.12

WCML deal ‘remains live’ following legal challenge

The Government has officially delayed the signing of the West Coast Main Line with FirstGroup, following a legal challenge launched last week by Virgin Rail.

The Opposition has urged the Government to delay the sign-off so that ministers can scrutinise the contract.

Virgin labelled FirstGroup’s bid ‘undeliverable’ and has called for a judicial review of the deal.

In a written ministerial statement ex-transport minister Theresa Villiers said: “As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live.”

But she insisted “the commitments in First West Coast’s bid represent significant improvements for passengers and will provide a good return for the taxpayer.”

The union RMT has called for full publication of both bids.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We want the hard facts and the full detail behind this shambles and it is clear that the Government are terrified of allowing a proper scrutiny of the financial structuring of the First bid because it would simply not stand up to any forensic examination.

“Department of Transport officials were mugged off by GNER and National Express on the East Coast only to see the promises collapse into rubble – they are now engaged in a full blown action replay on the West Coast.”

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