From cuts to crash? The story of the West Coast rail fiasco

 

Rail operator Virgin has been asked to continue running the troubled West Coast Main Line for another few months. Here's how the story unfolded.

October 2010: A spending review sets out plans to save more than £300m a year from the Department for Transport's budget by 2012.

November/December 2010: Redundancy plan results in merging of responsibilities among staff.

November 2010: Decision to make cuts in consultants goes ahead despite fears of impact on DfT resourcing.

2011: Restructuring plans rolled out with further redundancies among more junior civil servants. Government says central department will lose 480 staff.

May 2011: Government accepts McNulty report recommending a new rail-franchising system. Draft Invitation to Tender for West Coast franchise shortlists Richard Branson's Virgin Rail, Abellio, FirstGroup and SNCF/Keolis.

May-December 2011: Detailed plans for the new franchise are drawn up by Department officials, and financial models by which the bids will be assessed are devised.

January 2012: Final bids are received and assessed by the Department.

August 2012: Justine Greening announces she intends to award the West Coast franchise to FirstGroup. Virgin demands a judicial review into the decision.

October 2012: The DfT announces the decision to award the West Coast franchise to FirstGroup has been scrapped following the discovery of flaws in the procurement process. The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, orders two independent reviews into the matter.

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