West Coast Main Line: Time to make the right decision

IRichard Branson and Tim O'Toole with regards to the West Coast Main Line franchise.

John questioning Sir Richard Branson and Tim O’Toole at the Transport select Committee on the West Coast Main Line franchise.

This morning the Government announced their next steps on the West Coast Main Line franchise. Virgin will continue for up to 13 months, then there will be  two-year contract, then a full franchise bid.

This is the right decision. I argued in August that money should not be the only criteria when deciding franchises, past performance should be taken into account too.

And a fortnight ago, I argued that we needed time to change the rules before we went through the process again. This decision allows the time necessary to change the flaws in the current process, not just price and past performance, but also the lack of transparency and the lack of independent oversight over the whole process.

It is essential that the Transport Department make the right decision this time. They will only do that if they have a robust, transparent set of criteria that they apply.

They now have the time they need to get it right. That is why I support the timetable announced today.

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