MPs on the Public Accounts Committee are to scrutinise the government’s decision to award the 15-year West Coast Main Line franchise to First Group, it was revealed yesterday.
In a statement, the committee said that because it was the first of the longer franchises being let by the Department for Transport it wants to see that lessons from past failures to secure value for money have been learnt.
“We have expressed concerns before about the department’s capability in predicting accurate passenger numbers and reflecting the impact of economic conditions on train operator’s revenue,” it continued. “Questions over its capability have now been raised again and while we welcome healthy competition it is essential that the department has exercised proper due diligence in the letting of this franchise.
“In the short-term the Public Accounts Committee can look at the processes adopted by the department to respond to our previous recommendations, such as strengthening its testing of bidders’ assumptions. In the long term we can make a more rigorous assessment of whether the franchise is delivering a good deal for the public.”