Government won't be compensating anyone after ditching Great Western bid
The Government, at the cost of £50m to the taxpayer, pulled the contract for the West Coast Main Line and the Department for Transport have awarded an extension to FirstGroup, who currently run the line.
The failure of the Great Western franchise competition was highly publicised and those who put bids in were furious at the whole debacle. And guess what? Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has gleefully pointed out that no-one will be getting any compensation from it all.
"In keeping with the relevant invitations to tender, which made clear that bidders are responsible for their own costs, the Secretary of State does not believe it would be appropriate to reimburse bidders," he said in a statement. FirstGroup, National Express, Stagecoach, and Arriva, big companies that incurred costs bidding on the whole thing, will be furious.
First Group, meanwhile, will be running things for the foreseeable future, leaving out-of-pocket bidders and the taxpayer to go whistle. Let us not forget that FirstGroup was announced the winner of the West Coast franchise in August, only to be denied it two months later following the government's discovery of "significant technical flaws" in the way the process was undertook. The fact there's nine major contracts due to expire in 2014, it is fair to say that confidence in the government's ability to deal with it is low.
McLoughlin said: "These plans mark an important step on the way to restarting the franchising programme, and while I am determined this should happen as quickly as possible we do need time to get this right. We have had to take some tough decisions regarding franchising, and while they may provide a challenge in the short term, I believe the lessons we have learnt will help deliver a more robust system in the future benefiting fare-payers and taxpayers alike."
"As always our priority is to ensure these changes will not impact on services or our commitment to improving the railways. Our latest step towards delivering a high-speed rail network which will link many of our major cities by a new fleet of state-of-the-art trains is testament to how we are delivering on that commitment."
Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "The day the lid was lifted on the sordid fiasco on the West Coast the Government are at it again, doling out lucrative two-year contract extensions around the country with directly operated railways on hand to sweep up the mess if it all falls apart. The lies, deceit and racketeering of rail privatisation has to be called to a halt now."