Virgin Trains has commenced court proceedings over the government’s decision to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to First Group.
First Group was awarded the franchise earlier this month, with a promise to provide additional seats and improve services (see online news August 15).
But Virgin Trains said it had “tried for three weeks to get clarity over the Department for Transport’s decision and to have a number of key questions answered”, but that on each occasion it had been “refused information”.
In a statement Virgin Trains said that it was “left with no choice but to commence Court proceedings as we believe the procurement process has ignored the substantial risks to taxpayers and customers of delivering FirstGroup’s bid over the course of the franchise”.
The operator also said that the process had “ignored the DfT’s own assessment that VTL’s bid was more deliverable and a lower risk”, and added that “the current process is geared to selecting the highest risk bid and needs to be independently audited to prevent a repeat of former franchise failures”.
An e-petition set up to challenge the decision has so far received over 150,000 signatures, and Sir Richard Branson said that court proceedings were “the only course now available to try to unravel this sorry process”.
For more information visit virgintrains.co.uk.
Report by Mark Caswell
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