Questions raised about West Coast rail line deal
A COMMONS Select Committee chairman has written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin over the West Coast rail line franchise fiasco.
Mr McLoughlin, who is also Derbyshire Dales MP, was forced last week to scrap the bidding competition for the London to Scotland line due to Department for Transport (DfT) errors in the bidding process.
The department had awarded a new 13-year West Coast franchise not to incumbent company Virgin Trains but to rival transport company FirstGroup.
Mr McLoughlin laid the blame for the problems “fairly and squarely” with the department and three DfT officials have been suspended.
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House of Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman MP said she had written to Mr McLoughlin raising a number of questions about the cancellation of the competition. Mr McLoughlin is due to appear before the committee on October 31.
Commenting on her letter, Mrs Ellman said: “The Department for Transport has many serious questions to answer about what went wrong with the West Coast Main Line franchise competition and the wider ramifications for the other complex contractual negotiations it is involved in, such as the Thameslink rolling stock procurement.
“I have written to the Secretary of State to find out more about the reviews he has ordered, the staff who have been suspended and the reporting lines to ministers ahead of the hearing we will hold on October 31.”
Bombardier, based in Litchurch Lane, Derby, lost out on the lucrative Thameslink contract to German firm Siemens. The decision led Bombardier to shed about 1,000 temporary workers.