Contract for West Coast rail service remains unsigned after legal action
THE contract for the West Coast Main Line rail service was not signed yesterday, amid legal wrangling over the awarding of the contract to Aberdeen-based FirstGroup.
The Department for Transport (DfT) refused to say whether the contract signing had been delayed because of Virgin’s decision to take the issue to judicial review after losing out.
However, it had been understood that the contract would be signed yesterday after a spokesman said on Monday that there was “no reason” to delay it, despite calls from Labour for the government to wait until MPs could debate it next week.
Yesterday, a DfT spokeswoman said: “We are confident our process is robust and that the decision was absolutely the right one for taxpayers and passengers. We expect to sign the contract soon.”
A spokesman for FirstGroup insisted that the company is ready to sign the contract.
He said: “We have every confidence in the DfT’s process, which is rigorous, detailed and fair and in which bids are thoroughly tested.
“There has been no complaint about the process, which was carefully described in advance, until Virgin Rail Group had lost commercially.”
He added that the new service would also reduce the journey time from London to Glasgow by 15 minutes.
The FirstGroup bid is worth £5.5 billion at net present value, with Richard Branson’s Virgin believed to have bid £4.8bn.
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