Money should not be the only criteria when deciding a rail franchise

John thinks that public satisfaction and quality of service should be taken into account when giving out these contracts, not just price.

Rumours are going around that Virgin are about to lose the West Coast Mainline to First.

A couple of weeks ago, the rumour did the rounds in Westminster that First had won the contract by bidding silly money. There is talk in the press of First paying £500million a year for the contract, but the extent that they have over promised will only become clear when the detail of the contract in announced.

But the bidding process is not allowed to take into account previous performance, or public satisfaction. Or the knowledge that that company has as the provider to offer a realistic bid.

I understand why we have the current system, where the people deciding the bids are unaware who is making the bid. But I think this is wrong. Past performance is an indicator of future performance.

The problem about the current system is that it is all about price. And it ends up with company’s over bidding, and then not keeping their contract. The only way for them to make money is to cut staff and pay them less.

The last Government had to step in when National Express couldn’t honour their contract for the East Coast Mainline.

If the rumours are true, it wouldn’t surprise me if they had to with the West Coast Mainline, too.

5 responses to “Money should not be the only criteria when deciding a rail franchise

  1. This seems to me to be an unplanned route to nationalise the railways. First, or is that Worst, have not performed well elsewhere. I have a lot of sympathy for Mr Branson and the Virgin Trains team.

  2. Excellent blog John.

    I am sure Maria Eagle MP read this last night, as she has basically just said what you said yesterday word for word in all her news interviews.

    Norman Baker had better watch his back…

  3. Couldn’t agree more. The public support for Virgin, despite the bad times they had at the beginning of their tenure is overwhelming. Virgin’s time on the WCML has shown everything that can be good about private enterprise. It’s also nice to have a company in place who has a recognisable figurehead like Richard Branson rather than a CEO that may not last any serious length of time. Instead of taking work away from Virgin, I seriously feel that they should have been awarding more. Then again, Virgin Group being a private company that individuals and pensions won’t benefit from isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…

  4. Pingback: Questioning Branson and O’Toole about the West Coast Main Line | John Leech MP·

  5. Pingback: West Coast Main Line: Time to make the right decision | John Leech MP·

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