The First Virgin Conspiracy Escalates

Today the Government have announced that they are scrapping the West Coast Mainline FirstGroup deal. To be honest, everything about the deal felt dodgy in the first place, as I pointed out in an earlier post.

Without trying to be too sensationalist, like the Daily Mail or someone, I’ll skim over the fact that the DfT were the ones who:

a) had a thing against Richard Branson, that went back to when he initially won the contact all those years ago and…

b) the DfT are the ones who made so many ‘technical errors’ in the bidding process that the whole thing has been scrapped.

A rushed job gone wrong? Or something darker…

Just what is the DfT’s ulterior motive here? What do they want? Branson out, indebted First in? Branson out, the DfT in (that’s what is having to happen in the interim after all)?

Surely the simple answer isn’t that they were just that stupid.

There are 15 more rail franchises to be looked at before the next election, the BBC has reported.

And you can watch this video on the BBC and attempt to work out what the hell is going on. There are far too many intelligent people working in government for this to be simply a monumental ****up. Who is playing who? I’m no detective but it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

#firstvirgin #winning

Sophie Collard on Google+

The First Virgin Conspiracy

I love a good conspiracy. I also love making them up, so forgive me this one. The First Virgin Conspiracy. Having taken the train up to (for the most part) sunny Lancashire this week with Visit England, those of us with strong stomachs (Pendolinos are a bit like fast boats at times) were feeling pretty pro-Virgin trains. Here’s a photo of wonderful PR Nora Maki to show our enthusiasm:

When we got off the train we saw much of Lancashire with its exceedingly green green grass (and, in this case, tiny ducks):

So arriving at the breakfast table at Mytton Hall on day two and being confronted with the news Virgin Trains was to be no more was really quite shocking.

Why would the man who made trains sexy be banished from our railways?

Is First Great Western sexy? No, no it is not. Will First West Coast be sexy? Unlikely.

Virgin trains were the first to have radio that you could plug your headphones into like you can on a plane. They brought us those lovely slimline Pendolinos. And, most importantly, Virgin has money. FirstGroup has no money.  So what’s going on?

Well, after Virgin came to the table in ’97, the DfT felt they’d been ‘robbed’ of millions of pounds and said in response, ‘mark our words you won’t see the end of this.’

And Richard Branson said in response to FirstGroup winning the West Coast route – ‘mark my words, prices will rise.’

So there’s been a feud between the two from the beginning.

Perhaps the Government are going to attempt to let FirstGroup take over all the lines, before neatly buying them all back to take the UK back to a non-privatised way of train travelling. But I have absolutely no idea where they think the money for that is going to come from.

You could compare it to Bristol City Council shutting Ashton Court Festival down because they didn’t control it and people preferred it to the council-run Balloon Fiesta. Or you could call me a liar.

Sophie Collard on Google+