Public Accounts Committee

Reform of the rail franchising programme inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Report published 12 February 2016. Awaiting Government response.

Scope of the inquiry

On 3 October 2012, the Department for Transport cancelled its competition for the InterCity West Coast franchise due to errors in the procurement process. The Committee’s inquiry into the matter concluded that the Department’s failure to properly manage the competition would cost taxpayers at least £50 million. The Department subsequently paused three further franchise competitions. In addition to the Committee’s and NAO’s reports on the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast competition, Sam Laidlaw (a then Departmental Non-Executive Director) led an inquiry into the events. These reports highlighted a number of weaknesses including:

  • clarity of objectives and transparency of information
  • timetables for franchise competitions
  • senior level oversight, governance and assurance
  • commercial and project management capacity and capability

This inquiry looks at the Department’s response to the main recommendations from those reports and the effectiveness of its programme management in its rail franchising programme.

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