A judicial review of the decision to strip Virgin Trains of the lucrative West Coast Main Line franchise will cost taxpayers ‘a fortune’, Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has warned.
The Tory said Virgin’s move to challenge the Government’s decision to hand First Group the contract to run the line through the courts meant the process has become stuck in a ‘legal quagmire’.
He made the comments at a backbench debate at Westminster Hall on Monday, which was called after more than 170,000 people signed a petition asking the Government to reconsider its decision to hand First Group the franchise.
The decision over who will run the line from December is now in limbo.
Both Virgin and First Group said they would be willing to reintroduce direct services between Shropshire and London should they end up in charge.
Mr Kawczynski said the legal challenge would result in high costs for all involved and called for discussions with train operators to prevent similar problems occurring with bidding for future contracts.
“I very much regret the fact that taxpayers’ money will be used in trying to defend that challenge through the courts.
“An awful lot of money will be made by lawyers at the expense of the companies and the Government,” he said.
“We need to engage with operators on the procurement process for the future. I want us to avoid these problems in the future.
“I want all train operators to agree on some form of bidding or procurement that has buy-in, so that we can try to avoid these disputes.
“It is highly regrettable, when constituents are looking forward to better train services, that we have somehow degenerated into this legal quagmire, which could take a great deal of time and cost a great deal of money to resolve.”