Press release -

Virgin Rail Group statement: West Coast Main Line and Franchising

Virgin Rail Group issued the statement below on 29 October 2012, following the Secretary of State for Transport’s update to the Commons on the West Coast Main Line and Franchising.

"Today's interim report shows just how important our calls were in the summer to find out what went on behind closed doors when deciding the future operator of the West Coast franchise and that it should be opened up to proper detailed scrutiny.

"As well as the technical errors the review has identified, it raises fundamental questions around why more favourable treatment was given to one bidder over another and the lack of a clear and consistent account of how and what decisions were made. All of this is a matter of serious concern and we hope these issues will be explored in greater detail in the final report by Sam Laidlaw.

"Regardless of the catalogue of problems identified with the assessment process itself, we remain very clear that our own bid was robust and deliverable.

"Lessons must be learned to prevent the process failures we saw with the West Coast competition from happening again and to protect the taxpayer and passengers from phoney bids that game the system.

"Looking to the future and the current Brown review, the priority must be to get the rail franchising system back on track as quickly as possible on a sustainable basis. We need a franchising process that guarantees a level playing field, and a system built around quality and value for money.

"This will help ensure we deliver the best result for the passenger and taxpayer, as well as getting the best out of the private sector and the key role it plays in a successful UK rail system.

"In the meantime, we are making good progress in our negotiations with the Department for Transport towards agreeing an extension to the current franchise that will deliver continuity for both passengers and our staff."


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