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Blunder hits rail franchise chain
8:06am Thursday 4th October 2012 in News
Passengers hoping First Capital Connect would be stripped of its franchise could have to wait for years longer.
The rail company was due to lose control of the Brighton to Bedford Thameslink service in September next year when a new larger franchise is introduced.
But after the collapse of the deal yesterday for First Group to run the West Coast Mainline because of civil service blunders, the Government has halted the handover.
The new franchise for Sussex will cover existing First Capital Connect services to and from Brighton along the main line through London Bridge and to and from destinations north of London. Southern services that operate across Sussex will be amalgamated into the new franchise in 2015.
Five companies were being considered to run the services - the Go- Ahead Group, the First Group, the Stagecoach Group, the MTR Corporation and the Abellio Group and a decision was due in the coming months.
But yesterday transport secretary Patrick Coughlin was forced to admit that his department had botched the running of the competition to take over the West Coast services so badly that he could not trust the process.
He has ordered an independent inquiry and halted the transfer of any other franchises while the system is reviewed.
Mr McCoughlin told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I want to make it absolutely clear that neither FirstGroup nor Virgin did anything wrong.
“The fault of this lies wholly and squarely with the Department for Transport.
“Both of those two companies acted properly on the advice that they were getting from the department."
For the full story see today's Argus.