Author Topic: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time  (Read 1323 times)

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Online Taman Tun

UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« on: October 03, 2012, 07:42:00 AM »
After a very expensive bidding process Britain's Civil Servants and their highly paid consultants have admitted that they have completely fouled up the process of re-letting the West Coast Rail Franchise.  Guess how many of them will be sacked. 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/9583189/Government-cancels-West-Coast-Mainline-contract-due-to-flaws-in-bidding-process.html
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

Offline nookiebear

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Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 10:24:01 AM »
Virgin will keep the franchise!
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Offline dodgeydave

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Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 10:43:42 PM »
£40 million wasted. Heads should roll



West Coast Main Line deal scrapped after contract flaws discovered
COMMENTS (1287)

Branson: Virgin 'likely' to keep running the West Coast Main LineContinue reading the main story
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Peston: Why process was derailed
West Coast fiasco adds to coalition woes
'Major problem' for West Coast Main Line Listen
The decision to award the UK's multi-billion-pound West Coast Main Line rail franchise to FirstGroup has been scrapped by the government.

The transport secretary said there were "significant technical flaws" in the bidding process because of mistakes by Department for Transport staff. Three civil servants have been suspended.

The estimated cost of reimbursing four companies for the cost of their bids will be £40m, Patrick McLoughlin said.

FirstGroup said it was "disappointed".

The company had beaten current operator Virgin Trains to win the 13-year franchise.

The West Coast route serves 31 million passengers travelling between London, the West Midlands, the north-west of England, North Wales and the central belt of Scotland.

Mr McLoughlin emphasised that the companies had done nothing wrong during the process. The "fault lies wholly and squarely with the Department of Transport", he said.

Writing on his blog, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson welcomed the move, details of which emerged in the early hours on Wednesday.

He said he was hopeful ministers would "now accept that Virgin Trains should carry on running the West Coast Main Line".


Ben Wright
Political correspondent, BBC News
This dramatic, midnight admission by the government that it failed to judge the West Coast Main Line bid properly is deeply embarrassing.

When the franchise was handed to First Group the then Transport Secretary Justine Greening insisted the government would push on with a process it insisted had been robust and fair - in the face of angry objections by Virgin, the Labour Party and the thousands of people who signed a petition calling for the bid to be reconsidered.

She lost her job in the reshuffle. The new Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, told the Commons as recently as 12 September he was satisfied all bids were considered fairly and with "due diligence".

Now, the day before Virgin's High Court legal challenge was due to start, the Department of Transport has admitted to "completely unacceptable mistakes."

Its rail franchising policy is in chaos.

Four companies submitted bids 15 months ago - Virgin, FirstGroup, Dutch train operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, and a joint bid from French companies Keolis and SNCF.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says the implications of the decision to scrap the deal go much further than just the West Coast Main Line.

There were about 15 rail franchises due to be decided before the next general election and the whole franchising process could now be thrown into doubt, he added.

The August announcement that FirstGroup would take over train services on the line - one of Britain's busiest - in December had sparked a legal challenge from Virgin, which has run the franchise since 1997.

The Department for Transport said because of the decision to rerun the bidding process it would no longer be contesting the judicial review launched by Virgin Trains in the High Court.

Virgin will continue to operate the line while the issue is resolved.

Mr McLoughlin, who became transport secretary just three weeks ago, described the mistakes made by his department as "deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable".


Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin: "It is going to cost us a lot of money"
He said: "A detailed examination by my officials into what happened has revealed these flaws, and means it is no longer acceptable to award a new franchise on the basis of the competition that was held."

The department said the "flaws stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated. Mistakes were made in the way in which inflation and passenger numbers were taken into account, and how much money bidders were then asked to guarantee as a result".

Continue reading the main story
West Coast Main Line franchise

15 August 2012 Virgin Rail loses franchise as FirstGroup awarded it by Department for Transport
26 August Virgin Rail boss Richard Branson offers to run franchise "for free" while process is reviewed
28 August Virgin Rail launches legal challenge over contract process
3 October Department for Transport unexpectedly scraps contract with FirstGroup after flaws in process discovered. Two reviews ordered, and process to be re-run
9 December New contract for West Coast Main Line due to begin, lasting till 2026
Q&A: West Coast Main Line franchise
BBC business editor Robert Peston says the department made unrealistic assumptions about the growth of passenger numbers and inflation towards the back end of the franchise period.

This had the effect of making First Group's bid seem significantly more attractive, he added, because the company was much more optimistic about how passengers and revenues could grow after 2021.

The government has ordered two reviews. One will examine how the West Coast franchise competition went wrong, and what lessons could be learned. It will be headed by Sam Laidlaw, a non-executive director of the department, and is expected to report by the end of the month.

The other review will look into the wider Department for Transport rail franchise programme, and will be overseen by Eurostar chairman Richard Brown. His report is expected by the end of December.

The suspended staff face possible further disciplinary action pending an investigation.

Three other franchise competitions had also been "paused" in light of the West Coast Main Line situation, Mr McLoughlin confirmed.

"I want to make sure what lessons need to be learnt from what went wrong with this have not been repeated in those particular franchises."

'Frank announcement'
FirstGroup said that it had had "no indication" of any problems until it was contacted by the Department for Transport.

"We are extremely disappointed to learn this news, and await the outcome of the DfT's inquiries," the company said.

"The DfT has made it clear to us that we are in no way at fault, having followed the due process correctly. We submitted a strong bid, in good faith and in strict accordance with the DfT's terms."

Asked whether it was considering legal action, a spokesman said: "It is early days but we are considering our position." The company's shares had dropped 18% in early afternoon trade.

In a statement, Virgin Trains welcomed what it described as the transport secretary's "frank announcement" that the contest was flawed.

Continue reading the main story
FirstGroup

It said: "We are ready to play a full part in assisting the review to help deliver a franchising system that better serves passengers, taxpayers and the interests of all bidders."

Labour MP Louise Ellman, chairwoman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, described the development as "absolutely astonishing".

She said she would recall the transport secretary and permanent secretary to question them about it.

"This is really a major issue and a major catastrophe for them."

After learning that his firm had lost the bid in August Sir Richard said he was convinced that civil servants had "got their maths wrong."

Justine Greening, who was Transport Secretary at the time, defended what she described as the "robustness of the process".

In August, Labour had also called for a chance for MPs to review the process.

Following the cancellation, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "The government's belated admission that it ran a flawed tendering process will come as a surprise to no one."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19809717

 

Online Taman Tun

Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 04:55:47 AM »
GBP 40 million isn't the half of it.  This amount only covers paying back the costs of the 4 consortia who tendered for the West Coast franchise.  Apparently the tendering costs of Virgin were 14 million.  It really makes you wonder about the sanity of a tendering process where tendering consortia incur costs of around 10 million each.  I would not be surprised if the total cost of this fiasco were to be somewhere north of 200 million GBP:-

Costs of re-tendering
Costs of aborting tendering of several other franchises
Costs of negotiating expensive short term contracts on franchises, including West Coast
Costs of enquiries into the fiasco etc, etc

One of the funniest comments I saw was that Government Ministers could not be blamed for understanding every line of thousands of lines in the tender evaluation spreadsheets.  Maybe not but surely it is reasonable to expect that the Transport Minister would do a sanity check on the high level conclusions resulting from the spreadsheets. 

Maybe this will sound the death knell of all the box tickers inside the DfT who have already brought us such boondoggles as the Intercity Express Programme.  Civil Servants are completely incapable of running railways.   
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

Offline thaiga

Re: UK Rail - West Coast rail fiasco deserve a pay rise
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 12:24:36 PM »
Bungling officials who oversaw West Coast rail fiasco deserve a pay rise, says former Cabinet Secretary

Calls for senior civil servants to be paid more in the wake of the West Coast mainline franchise blunder prompted anger last night.

One of Whitehall’s most senior figures, former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell, led demands for a pay cap imposed on senior officials by the coalition, meaning they cannot be paid more than the Prime Minister, to be lifted.

He insisted pay levels were a ‘measure of how much they feel valued’.

Lord O’Donnell’s call for higher pay was met with incredulity by ministers, who are furious the bungled handling of the franchise competition for the West Coast mainline has reignited doubts about the Government’s competence.

David Cameron was given a personal assurance by officials that the West Coast mainline deal was secure, weeks before the humiliating admission that the franchise competition was in fact fatally compromised by ‘unacceptable mistakes’.

The Prime Minister intervened after a public appeal by Virgin Trains’ Sir Richard Branson, who faced losing the lucrative contract to rivals FirstGroup.

There is growing controversy over why it was not until days before a High Court challenge that civil servants realised their computer models were wrong.

Government sources insisted the episode, which has seen three officials at the Department for Transport suspended, apparently because passenger numbers and the impact of inflation were miscalculated, underlined the need for fundamental reform of Whitehall

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is introducing a new system to allow ministers, rather than just permanent secretaries, to appraise staff.

The poorest-performing ten per cent are to be placed in ‘special measures’, meaning they must either improve or face the sack.

Mr Maude is also preparing moves to stop the ‘merry-go-round’ of Whitehall appointments which means officials rarely see through big projects they have started.

Labour MPs claimed transport ministers appeared to have been ‘asleep on the job’ over the West Coast bid.

           
David Cameron was given a personal assurance by officials that the West Coast mainline deal was secure, weeks before the bidding process ended in farce

But Downing Street strongly defended the ministers involved, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers, who moved to other departments in the reshuffle.

Ministers had asked for and received reassurances from officials that the bid process was robust, sources said, insisting out they could not have been expected to personally check the calculations in hundreds of pages of spreadsheets.

But Lord O’Donnell insisted that criticising civil servants was ‘self-defeating’.

‘They accept the fact that it’s a time of austerity, they accept that their pay has been frozen, real pay cuts, their pensions have been cut back, their redundancy terms, all those other things,’ he said.

‘What they want is ministers to say and actually make sure they’re doing a good job and praise them. When it comes to the thing that they’re doing which is, I think, self-defeating is attacking their own staff - that’s a mistake.’

He said the West Coast episode does ‘raise some issues for us about skills in the civil service’.

‘There are civil servants up and down the country doing great jobs but we are suffering from some areas where there are skill shortages, I would say in commissioning areas, in the procurement area,’ he added.

‘I spent a lot of my time persuading lots of people to come and work in the civil service because of the public sector ethos, that they’re making a difference.

'The people that line doesn’t work with are the really hard-headed, commercial, the procurement guys - they’re out there to get a real good deal, they’re really good at that, and they get bid away from departments quite a lot; they get taken back into the private sector who pay them vastly more.

‘And these sorts of the people - it’s not that they’re greedy - but pay is a kind of measure of how much they feel they’re valued.’

The former Cabinet Secretary confirmed he would like to see the pay cap removed for newly-hired civil servants. I would certainly say that that’s part of the answer.

‘I think that we should be prepared to do that, and actually having a constraint, an arbitrary constraint like the Prime Minister’s salary isn’t helpful in that respect,’ he said.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘We already have a bloated bureaucracy running Whitehall departments. If the answer is bigger and more expensive government, then the wrong question is being asked.

‘Far too rarely in the public sector are civil servants who have made costly errors or wasted taxpayers’ cash ever held to account for their actions.

‘Public sector employees already enjoy higher pay and more perks than their private sector counterparts. Taxpayers will find the idea of pushing up the public sector wage bill even further, especially at a time when the purse strings need to be tightened, to be absolutely absurd.’

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs Westminster’s powerful Public Accounts Committee, called for ‘proper accountability’ to ‘raise civil servants’ game’.

‘It exposes in a very stark way that the present conventions on accountability between civil servants and ministers to Parliament and the public aren’t working.

‘It’s yet another example ... of where the civil servants themselves have not really captured and taken on the role that is expected of them in today’s society.

‘The way you climb the greasy pole in the civil service is that you change your job every couple of years,” she said.

‘That’s a disaster and we need to leave people in post so they take proper responsibility for the very difficult and complex job they have to do.

'Then we have to open up this issue of accountability so they can’t hide behind lack of accountability for not telling us what the outcomes are.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2212779/Bungling-officials-oversaw-West-Coast-rail-fiasco-deserve-pay-rise-says-Cabinet-Secretary.html?ito=feeds-newsxml





Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Online Taman Tun

Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2012, 08:06:37 PM »
No, what is really needed is severe pay cuts.  The highly paid spreadsheet jockeys have really fouled up in attempting to predict inflation and passenger numbers 10 years hence.  No matter how clever the spreadsheets it just cannot be done.  What we need are more people skilled in trimming the wicks and topping up the oil in the signal lamps.  These people do not need much money but at least they know how to run a railway.   
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

Online Taman Tun

Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 05:54:32 AM »
Koratfart World Exclusive!

We can now reveal why the Fat Controller fouled up big time on the West Coast franchise.  He was too busy reading Thomas the Tank Engine books to his grandchildren:-

We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

sicho

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Re: UK Rail- The Fat Controller Fouls up Big Time
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 07:45:07 AM »
No, what is really needed is severe pay cuts.  The highly paid spreadsheet jockeys have really fouled up in attempting to predict inflation and passenger numbers 10 years hence.  No matter how clever the spreadsheets it just cannot be done.  What we need are more people skilled in trimming the wicks and topping up the oil in the signal lamps.  These people do not need much money but at least they know how to run a railway.   

Are you referring to the days of State owned British Rail?

I'm generally in favour of the State ownership of national utilities, as opposed to them being owned by European private enterprises. However, British Rail had no idea how to run its business. Management solved financial problems by increasing fares and axing local services. Staff would strike whenever they wanted something. Rolling stock, especially in commuter areas, was out of date, overcrowded and prone to breakdown. In the wick trimming days, there was so little pride in the job that they didn't even bother to keep the engines clean. Staff were rude to customers. Delays were the norm. British Rail was a nightmare for customers and a job for lazy union members.

I agree that Bright Young Things with spreadsheets can make mistakes but, if I understand what has happened, they aren't the ones running the companies that manage the rail networks. They work for the Civil Service and specified the bid parameters.
 

 



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