We were notified late last night that the Department for Transport (DfT) has apparently discovered significant technical flaws in the way their franchise process for the InterCity West Coast was conducted and have consequently cancelled the competition for this franchise.
We understand the DfT has ordered two urgent independent inquiries into the West Coast competition and the wider DfT rail franchise programme. Until this point we had absolutely no indication that there were any issues with the franchise letting process and had received assurances from the DfT that their processes were robust and that they expected to sign the contract with FirstGroup soon.
We are extremely disappointed to learn this news and await the outcome of the DfT’s inquiries. The DfT have made it clear to us that we are in no way at fault, having followed the due process correctly. We submitted a strong bid, in good faith and in strict accordance with the DfT’s terms. Our bid would have delivered a better deal for West Coast passengers, the taxpayer and an appropriate return for shareholders.