Virgin Rail Issues Update on West Coast Main Line

Virgin Rail Group, the UK based holding company for train company, Virgin Trains, has issued a statement regarding the West Coast Main Line franchise.

The company statement reads, ‘The 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.’

Virgin Trains had earlier commenced court proceedings against a decision by the UK’s Department of Transport to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup, a Scotland-based transport company. The UK government later scrapped the contract after an investigation by the Department for Transport discovered major flaws in the franchise process.

Virgin has been operating the railway service since 1997, but the Department for Transport had awarded the new franchise contract for December 2012 to 2026 to First Group. In protest at the decision, Virgin had collected around 150,000 signatures for a campaign to force a parliamentary discussion to examine the granting of the West Coast franchise to First Group.