Monday, 20 August 2012

ICWC bid spat exposes industry's immaturity

The InterCity West Coast franchise excitement continues...

Both First and Virgin have continued trading blows on-line and through the media over the last couple of days.

Sir Richard Branson took to his blog on Friday to say:
The Government may as well have auctioned the West Coast Main Line on eBay: “Roll up, roll up for the Great Train Sale! Highest bidder wins. Doesn’t matter when you pay, 10 years or 15 years time will do.

“We don’t mind how much debt your company has. Deliverability not an issue. Quality not a factor. Redundancies not a problem. Roll up, roll up.”

It would have saved everyone a lot of time and effort and the taxpayer lots of money...

A member of the public completely independent of Virgin has set up an e-petition calling for the government to reconsider the West Coast Main Line franchise decision

If you want to join them and let the Government know your thoughts, we urge you to sign the independent e-petition.
A call to action that @VirginTrain's own twitter account took to heart:

Amusing to think that in December this renamed account will be tweeting on behalf of First Group! 

Such are the paradoxes of the franchising system.

Meanwhile Tim O'Toole in Saturday's Daily Mail accused Beardie of being a bad loser:
‘Branson has lost and he is off the field now,’ he said. ‘What he is saying is simply not true. We are not going to be cutting staff – staff levels will be about the same.

‘But there are two things which are particularly outrageous. Had he won, he was planning to cut twice as much as he said we would have cut. And if he had won with his bid, he would have made a huge amount of money. Maybe that explains his hysteria.’
Whilst the main protagonists continued playing Punch and Judy across the broadsheets on Sunday, it now looks as if the National Audit Office and Transport Select Committee will be scrutinizing the bids.

According to Alistair Osborne in today's Telegraph:

Margaret Hodge, PAC chairman, said she was concerned that, following bid fiascos on the East Coast line, the Department for Transport (DfT) had been “over-optimistic about passenger numbers and economic growth”.

“There is no evidence to us that the DfT has changed its spots on any of this,” she said. “It would probably be legitimate for us to look at the process they have engaged in on this bid.”

Whilst this all adds greatly to the general gaiety of the nation, is it anyway to run a railway?