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Thursday 19th July 2012 | 17:26
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, responding to reports that the Great Western franchise is to be extended because the DfT's franchise renewal programme is running behind schedule, said:
"The Government’s rail strategy is descending into chaos, with Great Western the latest franchise apparently off track. The Transport Secretary must admit if these reports are true and come clean on how much this has cost the taxpayer, when last year’s negotiations for a similar extension to the West Coast franchise cost more than a quarter of a million pounds in payments to consultants and lawyers.
"With First reportedly avoiding £800 million in payments back to taxpayers by initially refusing to extend this franchise, Ministers must also explain whether any of this money will now be paid or if taxpayers will yet again be left out of pocket.
"Passengers are facing annual fare rises of up to 11 per cent every year and this ongoing franchise fiasco is yet more evidence of how the rail industry needs to be reformed to work better for fare-payers and taxpayers."