Train group wins bid in High Court

FirstGroup, the bus and train operator, today won a High Court bid for the right to see the "scores" which led to it being excluded from bidding for a new rail franchise.

EXCLUDED TRAIN GROUP WINS HIGH COURT MOVE IN FRANCHISE CHALLENGE

By John Aston, PA News

FirstGroup, the bus and train operator, today won a High Court bid for the right to see the "scores" which led to it being excluded from bidding for a new rail franchise.

The information was requested in connection with a legal challenge to the Strategic Rail Authority's decision to shortlist only three companies - but not New Great Eastern - to run the enlarged Greater Anglia franchise set to come in next year.


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The decision has meant that FirstGroup, which set up New Great Eastern for the purpose of bidding for the new franchise, effectively faces the sack from running the Liverpool Street-East Anglia services.

Today, despite opposition from the SRA, Mr Justice Jackson ruled that FirstGroup was entitled to see the aggregate scores of the three shortlisted companies on an anonymised basis.

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This allows FirstGroup access to information which it believes could support its argument that its exclusion from the bidding process was "irrational, unlawful and unfair'.

The full hearing of the company's application for judicial review is expected in mid-July.

The "irrationality' argument is largely founded on the fact that First Great Eastern, which currently runs the East Anglia services, is reckoned to have been one of the best train operators on the national network and has turned a £40 million annual taxpayer subsidy into a £10 million surplus.

The three shortlisted candidates for the new franchise are National Express, which runs West Anglia services; GB Rail, which runs the intercity services in the region; and Arriva, operator of Northern Trains.

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