An independent review into the fiasco surrounding Lancashire’s most popular rail line will be delivered to Whitehall this week.
Headed by senior business figure Sam Laidlaw, the review into the West Coast Main Line is set to make grim reading for the Department for Transport (DfT) where three civil servants have already been suspended over the issue.
Last summer, after a bidding process, the DfT decided to award a new 13-year West Coast franchise not to Sir Richard Branson’s rail company Virgin Trains but to rival company FirstGroup.
Sir Richard branded the bidding process “insane” and launched a legal challenge.
It was in preparing a defence against the court proceedings that what Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin described as “significant technical flaws” in the franchise process were discovered.
Mr McLoughlin, who had not been in charge when the FirstGroup decision was made, called off the bidding process and announced Mr Laidlaw’s inquiry and a second, independent, inquiry into the whole franchise bidding system.
Mr Laidlaw has already published a damning initial-findings report, which said that “an accumulation of significant errors...resulted in a flawed process” in the process.