Virgin Trains will continue to run West Coast rail services for the next 9 to 13 months, following a decision by transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. Meanwhile Sam Laidlaw, the DfT non- executive director leading an independent review into the west coast fiasco, has presented his preliminary report.
Laidlaw points to a significant array of mistakes including poor preparation and weak leadership. ‘These errors appear to have been caused by factors including inadequate planning and preparation, a complex organisational structure and a weak governance and quality assurance framework.
‘The full causes and the lessons to be learnt will be addressed in the final report of my independent Inquiry to be published at the end of November,’ he said and added,
‘Firm judgments should not be made based upon what are provisional findings or wider conclusions drawn at this stage.’
Richard Brown, who is leading a full investigation into the franchising process, is expected to report by the end of the year. In a statement on the interim Laidlaw report, Virgin said this justified their actions contesting the decision his summer. ‘Today’s interim report shows just how important our calls were in the summer to find out what went on behind closed doors when deciding the future operator of the West Coast franchise and that it should be opened up to proper detailed scrutiny.’
Staff at Virgin Trains continue to run services with noteworthy professionalism and are preparing for a busy Christmas.