Lancashire TelegraphEast Lancashire politicians slam embarrassing U-turn over West Coast Mainline (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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East Lancashire politicians slam embarrassing U-turn over West Coast Mainline

Lancashire Telegraph: Nigel Evans MP Nigel Evans MP

EAST LANCASHIRE politicians of all parties have told the government to ensure that the next decision on who runs the West Coast Main Line is made properly after its ‘embarrassing’ £40 million U-turn yesterday.

The last minute decision made just hours before Virgin Trains’ bid to overturn the decision to strip it of the franchise in favour of FirstGroup, has stunned local MPs and Peers.

They now want Sir Richard Branson’s company to continue running the key link between Lancashire, London and Scotland until the fiasco is sorted out and any new bidding system is secure.

The politicians also want the government to delay starting a similar process for Northern Rail, including the East Lancashire Line, due to take effect in April 2014, delayed until the Department of Transport review of events is complete. Tory MP Nigel Evans branded the fiasco ‘embarrassing’, Blackburn’s Jack Straw ‘a world record government shambles’ and Pendle Liberal Democrat Peer Tony Greaves ‘an appalling and dreadful shambles’.

New transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin admitted ‘significant technical flaws’ in the process because of mistakes by departmental staff. Three civil servants were suspended as the cost was estimated at £40m.

FirstGroup, which had beaten Virgin Trains to win the 13-year franchise, said it was disappointed.

The route serves 31 million passengers linking at Preston with the line serving Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Nelson and Colne.

Virgin have said they are willing to keep running the line.

Ribble Valley MP Mr Evans said: “This is extremely embarrassing. I was as shocked as everybody else. We need to ensure Virgin Trains keep running the line while a proper process is sorted out to make sure the new award is secure.”

Labour’s Mr Straw said: “It’s an unbelievable mess We must ensure that Virgin keep running the service while this is sorted out and all franchise processes, including Northern Rail, need to be suspended until we have a proper system.”

Lord Greaves said: “Virgin must keep on running it until we get a new system. They cannot award any more franchises, including Northern Rail, until this is sorted out properly.”

Comments (6)

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1:01pm Thu 4 Oct 12

Philip A Berry says...

The Northern Rail franchise should be dependent on a commitment to running trains through to Skipton.

Perhaps Richard Branson would like to pick this one up?
The Northern Rail franchise should be dependent on a commitment to running trains through to Skipton. Perhaps Richard Branson would like to pick this one up? Philip A Berry
  • Score: 0

1:51pm Thu 4 Oct 12

fabinribblevalley says...

Typical politicians, haven't got a clue what they are saying. The tories kicking Mr Branson in the teeth then going back cap in hand,'Please Mr Branson get us out of this mess' What a load of idiots why don't we have people running the country like Mr Branson who are successful business men with a proven track record not a load of brain dead morons who only worry where the next brown envelope is coming from. The tories have had more **** ups in 2yrs than the last 5 governments over 20 yrs their excuses have now become a common saying, Quote, 'It's not my fault I did not know this was happening' Unquote. Cameron it's time to move over let the country be run by people who know how to run it. And if your staying make at least one correct decision Get Virgin back on line.
Typical politicians, haven't got a clue what they are saying. The tories kicking Mr Branson in the teeth then going back cap in hand,'Please Mr Branson get us out of this mess' What a load of idiots why don't we have people running the country like Mr Branson who are successful business men with a proven track record not a load of brain dead morons who only worry where the next brown envelope is coming from. The tories have had more **** ups in 2yrs than the last 5 governments over 20 yrs their excuses have now become a common saying, Quote, 'It's not my fault I did not know this was happening' Unquote. Cameron it's time to move over let the country be run by people who know how to run it. And if your staying make at least one correct decision Get Virgin back on line. fabinribblevalley
  • Score: -3

2:20pm Thu 4 Oct 12

mavrick says...

This fiasco does highlight a bigger problem in British politics. When we vote at the general election we may change the party in government but, And it is a big but, Why do we not change the administration? While this goes on nothing will change. When a government changes I would suggest all civil servants above a certain level should re-apply for their job. This I believe would remove familiarity in the halls of Westminster. For too long senior civil servants have ruled the country from behind the scenes without any accountability. If we want real change we need to force the issue, or suffer the consequences of incompetence.
This fiasco does highlight a bigger problem in British politics. When we vote at the general election we may change the party in government but, And it is a big but, Why do we not change the administration? While this goes on nothing will change. When a government changes I would suggest all civil servants above a certain level should re-apply for their job. This I believe would remove familiarity in the halls of Westminster. For too long senior civil servants have ruled the country from behind the scenes without any accountability. If we want real change we need to force the issue, or suffer the consequences of incompetence. mavrick
  • Score: 3

3:01pm Thu 4 Oct 12

Gaius Grossus says...

There is another solution, give it to the body that runs the East coast set up. They are making money and it all goes to the national pot, Unlike good old BR they are at arms length from the Treasury and the politicians so can make investment decisions properly.
There is another solution, give it to the body that runs the East coast set up. They are making money and it all goes to the national pot, Unlike good old BR they are at arms length from the Treasury and the politicians so can make investment decisions properly. Gaius Grossus
  • Score: 2

3:28pm Thu 4 Oct 12

DirtyHarry says...

Philip A Berry wrote:
The Northern Rail franchise should be dependent on a commitment to running trains through to Skipton.

Perhaps Richard Branson would like to pick this one up?
Are you talking about him financing the reinstatement of the Colne / Skipton line?
[quote][p][bold]Philip A Berry[/bold] wrote: The Northern Rail franchise should be dependent on a commitment to running trains through to Skipton. Perhaps Richard Branson would like to pick this one up?[/p][/quote]Are you talking about him financing the reinstatement of the Colne / Skipton line? DirtyHarry
  • Score: 0

4:11pm Thu 4 Oct 12

Noiticer says...

I daresay Ngel Evans voted for the privatisation of the rail network back in the 1980's and thus thought the current franchising system was a good idea. Can he tell us why we need to have franchises? The best solution would be ''not for profit' organisations run by management and the rest of the staff with incentives to increase business and invest any profits made and resposible to regional passenger authorities which also regulate local bus services and fares.
I daresay Ngel Evans voted for the privatisation of the rail network back in the 1980's and thus thought the current franchising system was a good idea. Can he tell us why we need to have franchises? The best solution would be ''not for profit' organisations run by management and the rest of the staff with incentives to increase business and invest any profits made and resposible to regional passenger authorities which also regulate local bus services and fares. Noiticer
  • Score: 0

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