Statement due on rail deal fiasco

Blackpool Citizen: The competition to run trains on the West Coast Main Line has been cancelled The competition to run trains on the West Coast Main Line has been cancelled

Holyrood's Transport Minister is due to make a statement on the "shambolic" cancellation of the West Coast main line rail franchise.

Keith Brown is expected to outline his concerns about the handling of the UK Government u-turn which has cost taxpayers £40 million.

The UK Department for Transport announced on Wednesday that the franchise cancellation is wholly and squarely a Whitehall fault.

Aberdeen-based transport firm FirstGroup was to take over the franchise from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Rail which runs services linking Glasgow and Edinburgh with London.

Two independent inquiries have been ordered into what went wrong with the West Coast process.

In the wake of the controversial decision, Mr Brown complained that the Scottish Government was given no warning of a decision which affects the country.

"This is a shambolic situation that affects thousands of passengers in and out of Scotland," he said.

"I will do everything I can within our current limited powers to help minimise any uncertainty and disruption for them and I urge the Department for Transport to sort out this horrendous mess and do the same.

"Despite the fact that this franchise provides services to and from Scotland, we were not advised of the findings nor of the fact that they would be announced today and therefore not included in planning how best to protect the interests of Scottish passengers."

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