MP Daniel Kawczynski fears rail review will cost a fortune

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.

Virgin and FirstGroup trains stock

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.”

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Comments for: "MP Daniel Kawczynski fears rail review will cost a fortune"


WHY? If Branson fails to prove his case costs will be awarded against him. If on the other hand the process is faulty Branson will awarded his costs and the government will foot the whole bill. So is DK saying the government will lose the case? Or is he speaking as instructed in the Party Line?

If the process is faulty then changes will be made which will ultimately save the tax payers money. If the Dft are already making changes as they have indicated then Branson will win by default so don't contest it, just adjust the adjudication of the tenders to demonstrate that the outcome is fair and award accordingly.

Colin Dodd.

Why should the taxpayer have to fund any legal action?

If Branson is not happy, he should pay his own legal costs, as should First, and whoever loses should pay the court costs. They can both easily afford it, and are private enterprises, the taxpayer doesn't get paid dividends from their profits, so why should they finance their legal squabbling?


Branson's case is not against First Group. It is against the Dft because he thinks the process is faulty. If First Group get involved it will only be as interested parties because they so chose.

Since the Dft have already decided to change to process they have in effect admitted that it is faulty so Branson wins. No point in going to court.

The issue then is should the Dft reconsider the tenders on the basis of what they said they would do or on on what they should have said they would do? Have the lessons been learnt and applied?

Who pays when the government makes a mistake? Us of course but is there any other way of doing it? Nomatter what the outcome one of the two tenderers will have lost the bid and feel financially deprived.

Richard Evans

'The taxpayer doesn't get paid dividends from their profits'?

No just the million pounds a day or thereabouts that they pay for the franchise!

In any case it is entirely the Department for Transport's fault - Hammond, Villiers and Greening in particular. If DfT had listened to what VT has been telling them for years they would not have got into this mess. Every time Virgin has been outbid on a franchise the 'winner' has taken profits in the first few years then failed to pay the promised fees to government at the end. Now they're doing it again. Not called DaFT for nothing then?

As ever with this government they see the pound signs and nothing else - like quality, public demand or deliverability. The franchise process is deeply flawed, winners have repeatedly failed to deliver and the process needs changing.

Maybe a judicial review will convince DaFT because clearly they're not swayed by the railway professionals or the people who vote for them and sign e-petitions!


DK was not the only Tory rubbishing Branson and promoting First Group.

I just have to wonder why? It will make no difference to Shropshire which of the bidders is finally awarded the contract.


I live at Wem and after walking to the station I can be in London in two and a half hours via Crewe and on the Virgin non stop Pendolino service to London Euston. If I book in advance with my senior railcard the fare is £13.90. Wem is about 12 minutes from Shrewsbury by train and there are many more trains from Shrewsbury than Wem, so why all the shout for a direct service from Shrewsbury? Just use what there is available now.

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