By Marcus Leach
The u-turn in the West Coast Main Line contract is yet another example of bungled government procurement, according to Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it was "deeply regrettable" that mistakes had been made by staff within the Department for Transport, leading to the cancelling of FirstGroup's contract.
Two reviews have been ordered into what happened, and the process will be re-run. The estimated cost of the mistakes will be £40m, he said.
Dr Adam Marshall has said that this costly mistake shows the government in a bad light.
"The West Coast Main Line is one of Britain's most important business corridors, and companies in cities up and down the country will be concerned that this situation could affect both current services and future investment in critical passenger services," he said.
"When this government arrived in office, it promised longer and more stable rail franchises that would deliver value for money and improved services to users and taxpayers. Ministers must now act swiftly to ensure that investment in the railway network, which underpins investment in our cities and towns, does not suffer as a result of their decision to re-run the competition for this crucial franchise.
"More broadly, mistakes in rail franchising are indicative of a bigger problem across Whitehall, which has bungled major procurements for years. Procurement mistakes and problems increase risk for companies, threaten jobs, and harm Britain's reputation as a destination for inward investment. Britain needs procurement professionals across government with the same level of skill and ability as their counterparts in the private sector."
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