Temporary Virgin West Coast Main Line deal expected
Wednesday 05 December 2012
A deal to allow Sir Richard Branson's train company, Virgin Rail, to temporarily carry on running trains on the West Coast Main Line is expected to be announced by the Government tomorrow.
And it is believed that Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin may also publish the independent report he commissioned into the scrapped West Coast franchise bidding process.
Virgin has run the line, which takes passengers from London to Scotland, since 1997.
But in August, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that a new 13-year West Coast franchise had been awarded not to Virgin but to rival transport company FirstGroup.
It was only after Sir Richard, who had branded the bidding process "insane", had mounted a legal challenge to the decision that Mr McLoughlin scrapped the bidding process, saying there had been mistakes by the DfT.
Three DfT officials were suspended and negotiations were started with a view to getting Virgin to run the line for between nine and 13 months before a short interim franchise was offered followed by a longer one later.
The details, and length, of the for-now deal, are expected to be announced tomorrow.
When he pulled the plug on the West Coast franchise bidding, Mr McLoughlin appointed businessman Sam Laidlaw to produce an independent report into the fiasco.
After producing damning initial findings, which listed failings by the DfT, Mr Laidlaw presented his full report to the department last week.
But with one of the suspended department officials, Kate Mingay, mounting a legal challenge to her suspension, Mr McLoughlin announced that he was delaying the Laidlaw report publication until this week.
Mr Laidlaw had been due to appear before the House of Commons Transport Committee this week, but MPs will now hear his evidence on December 18.
The committee's chairman, Louise Ellman, criticised the DfT over the delay.
FirstGroup had been due to take over the West Coast line on December 9.
Following the franchise collapse, the RMT transport union had been pressing for the DfT to oversee the running of the West Coast line in the public sector, as is the case, for now, with the East Coast line.
Today RMT general secretary Bob Crow said there had been a "reckless high-wire act that has taken the negotiations between Virgin and the DfT right to the very brink".
He went on: "Because of the shocking ineptitude right at the top of this rotten Government, Sir Richard Branson has muscled his way into a monopoly provider position and him and his Virgin Trains shareholders will be laughing all the way to the bank.
"The case for renationalisation of Britain's railways is now overwhelming."
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for...