The failure of the Government’s West Coast Main Line franchise process will cost millions to put right and cast uncertainty over North Wales rail links, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas has said.
The Government revealed last night that its entire rail franchise deal for the West Coast Main Line had failed.
The announcement was made in the early hours of the morning, the day before the Government were due at the High Court to face a legal challenge. The Department of Transport acknowledgement that there were “significant technical flaws” in the franchise process means that taxpayers face a bill of at least £40 million.
That will be the cost of reimbursing the four companies who had put themselves forward for the franchise in for the cost of their bids.
Mr Lucas has warned that the future of services for Wrexham would remain unclear until the process had been re-run.
Mr Lucas said “Here in North Wales, Labour MPs had sought – and received – assurances about services from the winners of the franchise, First Group, that services linking us to London would be protected. Before that, we had pushed the Government to protect those links by writing them into the franchise.
“The Government refused to add such protections into the franchise. Even if they had, the failure of the process means that they would have been worthless.”
“The future of services for Wrexham and North Wales which link in to the West Coast Main Line will now remain uncertain for many more months, if not years, to come.”
Cllr David Bithell Leader of the Wrexham Independent Group and RMT branch secretary for Wrexham said he was pleased that common sence had prevailed “as Virgin Trains were promising to run more services between Wrexham and Shrewsbury than the West coast bid.
“Maybe now we will see a proper and through examination of all franchises to ensure cost effectiveness and better services rather than accepting the highest bid and tax payer having to pick up the bill.”