Legal action delays signing of Cumbrian railway deal
Last updated at 11:38, Tuesday, 04 September 2012
Legal action by Virgin Rail has prevented the Government signing a contract awarding the West Coast Mainline franchise, which runs through Cumbria, to a rival bidder.
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said the Government would “robustly” defend the case following the decision to award the West Coast Mainline contract to FirstGroup.
“As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, andconsequently the competition remains live,” she told MPs in a written statement.
Virgin Rail has accused Transport Secretary Justine Greening of acting “unlawfully”, “irrationally” and against EU law by awarding the £13.3bn contract to FirstGroup.
Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, welcomed the delay on the decision, saying it would now allow for proper scrutiny of the decision.
But Ms Villiers told MPs the bid by FirstGroup would offer “significant improvements” for passengers.
She said: “The West Coast Main Line is one of the most important intercity rail passenger routes in the country and it is also a valuable public asset.
“Over the last decade and more, taxpayers have invested £9bn to upgrade the infrastructure. It is a profitable franchise for the current operator and after significant public investment in the line the Government is rightly seeking to get a substantial return for passengers and taxpayers.”
“The First West Coast bid would provide more trains on the route, with 12,000 extra seats per day from December 2016, new services and station upgrades.
Speaker John Bercow decided not to grant an emergency debate under Standing Order 24 on Monday night after Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron, who is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, criticised the Government for making its decision over the summer recess.
First published at 11:28, Tuesday, 04 September 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk