In the last 15 years Virgin Trains was the company awarded the West Coast Main Line contract. However this year Richard Branson-owned company lost the contract from one of its main competitors- FirstGroup. The government`s decision will be probably legally disputed as Virgin Train announced they are going to oppose the government`s decision to accept the competitor`s bid. The company applied for the judicial review of the decision and logged papers at the High Court in London.
Richard Branson, Virgin Trains owner, said: “In the bid process the one thing we do know is our bid was voted far more deliverable than FirstGroup’s.”All we are saying is that these same civil servants got their maths wrong with National Express and GNER, we’re absolutely convinced they’ve got their maths wrong with FirstGroup.”Rather than give up the fight as we did on the East Coast Main Line, we’re going to fight, and if at the end we’re proven wrong we’ll bow out gracefully.”
Justine Greening, Transport Secretary was surprised and highly disappointed by Virgin`s actions. She said: ”We will defend the robustness of the process. It’s a process that Virgin themselves have been involved in for the last 15 months and have raised no concerns about until the point it became clear that they had lost this bid.”We have a process that all the parties bought in to, one of them that hasn’t won out on the bid has chosen to challenge it.”
It is not clear whether Virgin`s legal action will cause any delay in the signing of the contract, however Greeting said that the legal contract will be signed as soon as possible .
Meanwhile FirstGroup responded: “We have every confidence in the DfT’s [Department for Transport's] process which is rigorous, detailed and fair and in which bids are thoroughly tested.”There has been no complaint about the process, which was carefully described in advance, until Virgin Rail Group had lost commercially.”