Latest Rail News

17.12.12

Transport Committee set to grill Laidlaw

Sam Laidlaw, author of the recent report into the West Coast franchising chaos, is to appear before the Transport Select Committee tomorrow, as it attempts to ascertain the precise nature of the mistakes made by DfT officials.

One of the key issues for MPs will be how the subordinated loan facility was determined for the bidders, and how this information was relayed to senior officials and ministers involved in the project.

Laidlaw said in his report: “There were a number of opportunities for a full and proper explanation as to how the SLF requirements had been sized to be formally escalated and reported within the DfT in the seven weeks after the CAC meeting and before the award announcement was made on 15 August 2012. These opportunities appear not to have been taken.

“Inaccurate reports as to how the SLF numbers had been produced by the DfT were made to senior DfT decision makers and ultimately to the then Minister of State.

“The material on which these senior DfT decision makers and the Minister made their decisions to award the ICWC [Inter City West Coast] franchise to First included these inaccurate reports.”

On December 4, the evidence session with Laidlaw and his co-author Ed Smith was postponed, as the DfT had not yet made the report publicly available.

Chair of the committee, Louise Ellman MP, highlighted her disappointment with the delay and said: “It is regrettable that the DfT should have added to the confusion caused by the abandonment of the West Coast Main Line competition with this episode.”

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(Image: Philip Toscano / PA Wire) 

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