FirstGroup's West Coast bid to be investigated

20 August 2012

FirstGroupYou may well be stood there, resplendent in your FirstGroup trainers with your FirstGroup umbrella, but it isn't time to start blowing up your FirstGroup balloons in celebration yet. That's because all is not hunky dory with their takeover of West Coast rail.

In fact, MPs and the like want to scrutinise the whole thing.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Transport Committee are looking at FirstGroup's bid because they're pointing at figures that show that taxpayers won't see substantially higher payment until March 2022, which is crap.

Margaret Hodge, PAC chairman, said she was worried that, after all that bidding fiasco concerning the East Coast line, the Department for Transport (DfT) had been "over-optimistic about passenger numbers and economic growth. There is no evidence to us that the DfT has changed its spots on any of this," she said. "It would probably be legitimate for us to look at the process they have engaged in on this bid."

FirstGroup offered £13.3bn (cash!) for the West Coast against Virgin's £11bn. Alas, analysis shows that, while FirstGroup offered £45m more during the first three full years, the taxpayer would have actually been better off with Virgin in each of the next five by as much as £135m.

A senior rail figure told the Telegraph: "If this is what the DfT is looking for, all people will do is bid a big number and load it to the end. If you get it right you make a lot of money. If you get it wrong, you walk away. They’re encouraging you to be unbelievably cynical."

TOPICS:   Travel


  • Kevin
    So it should just be about the money not about the trains or the service they give? Oh that's ok then. I didn't see the MP's running to look at the problems Virgin have caused with their staff, pricing strategies (peak time definitions for one thing) and lack of control over customers over the years. Oh no,Virgin is just rosy so of course it's wrong they lost it. I'm not FirstGroup fan atall but Virgin isn't as clean as they are making themselves out to be either.
  • Jeebus
    Kev, got to agree. Virgin were shite. They got a lot of lee-way from the press because generally Virgin Atlantic is not as shit as BA and the press have got a hard-on for Branson. Virgin Trains were actually pretty shit. First Class services, with no staff on the weekend were a joke. As was having nearly half the train dedicated to first class (often with only 1 or 2 passengers per carriage) while standard class was jam-packed. That's not to mention the propensity of their services to "break-down" if there weren't enough passengers. I kid you not, I was once booked on the second to last train from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston. With only 10 mins or so to go before departure and with myself and maybe 3 other people waiting to board, the train was cancelled due due to a fault. The same train sat in the platform for an hour, not one person came out to "fix" it and mysteriously enough was fine to depart an hour later when a few more passengers had arrived.
  • plop
    Latest Private Eye has an interesting thing about WorstGroup: they pulled out of another franchise just before the premium was due so they didn't have to hand over the payment. Anyone taking bets on the exact same thing happening here?
  • Chewbacca
    Virigin trains ARE shit. The pendos have have significant modifications made as the toilet tanks were positioned directly above the engines, in effect heating up the shit and filling the coaches with the warm smell of faeces. @Jeebus - I think you're being paranoid. On modern trains, faults can (and do) self-rectify. Anyway, pathing for trains is so tight that they may only have had ~3 minutes to investigate the fault, fix it and depart or lose their path. Track access fees vary, but cancelling a train incurs a fine of approx £160,000. Trust me, they don't cancel trains on a whim.
  • FCC H.
    All the Virgin Trains haters on this page should try a journey on First Capital Connect...
  • Richard B.
    I think Virgin are excellent and First Group are a bunch of liars and should never have won. I also understand virgin did not collude to keep air fares high in the past or charge extortionate interest rates on its credit cards, and their customer call staff at Virgin media are the best in the third world. Not to mention a very nice boss who goes out ballooning and trying to break some world record in his spare time when he is not on Necker Island, a wildlife reserve in the caribbean. It's a pity Virgin didn't win the contract to supply security at the olympic games too, as we could of shown G4S how to do it properly. Oh, and their broadband is the fastest and bestest in the world. In fact if Virgin made beer it would probably be the best in the world.
  • Chewbacca
    @"Richard Branston" Nice attempt at trolling. Well, I say nice. I'm only trying to congratulate like a parent does a child. PARAGRAPHS motherfucker. Additionally, you're wrong. Dick.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment