Virgin to keep West Coast rail route after complete fiasco
The West Coast rail saga has been a monumental balls-up, leaving the government looking like dunderhead know-nowts. And so, while they try and find someone else to blame or at least a decent cover story, they've handed the control of the route to Virgin who can look after things for at least nine months.
Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for transport, will make an announcement later today to the House of Commons with more on what caused so much chaos on the line that was initially awarded to FirstGroup before the inevitable cock-up.
McLoughlin said: "The cancellation of the InterCity West Coast (ICWC) franchise is deeply regrettable and I apologise to the bidders involved and the taxpayer who have a right to expect better.
"My priority now is to fix the problem and the first step is to take urgent action to ensure that on the 9 December services continue to run to the same standard and passengers are not affected. I believe Virgin remaining as operator for a short period of time is the best way to do this and my officials and I will be working flat out to make this happen."
If only someone had worked 'flat out' in the first place, to save everyone all this nonsense.
Meanwhile, in a statement, FirstGroup say: "We believe the private sector provides the most effective and efficient way to deliver passenger rail services in the UK. We await the outcome of the independent investigations into the ICWC franchise competition and the wider rail franchising process, which we hope will provide a greater degree of certainty and confidence not only to future bidders, but to employees, stakeholders and the travelling public too. "
Meanwhile, the unions are furious (as usual) saying that this is all an 'ideological stitch-up', with RMT's Bob Crow saying that "the government are ideologically opposed to public ownership of the railways and, in collusion with the private train operators, have stitched up a shabby deal that will enable them to rerun the whole franchise fiasco in a years time."