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

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.

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