Despite the Department for Transport(DfT) and Transport Minister, Justine Greening claiming that Virgin only started challenging the process once they had lost the Bid for the West Coast rail franchise, records show this not to be the case.
Tony Collins, Cheif Executive Officer for Virgin Rail Group said today: ‘There must be some misunderstanding at DfT. We have had several meetings over the last two or three years where we have expressed our concerns over the bid process, how it evaluates the bids and how it leads to the sorts of failures we have seen on EC with NatEx and GNER. We certainly have dates of meetings, follow-up letters and obviously our notes of what was discussed.”
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group is also on record as saying “We have to ask: do we want winning franchise bids based just on the bottom line, or do we want innovative ideas taken into account?” Sir Richard asked. “We want it to be a beauty parade based on innovation and quality and service. Cheap trains, cheap seats, cheap staff, cheap service. That’s not what people want.”
“If bids are won and lost on purely the bottom line, we will get the situation where we lost out on East Coast Main Line to someone overbidding,” Sir Richard continued, “East Coast could have been transformed but, under the antiquated bidding system, it went to the highest bidder and you can see the mess that took place.”