I haven’t been on a Virgin train since 1999. The whole experience, from buying the ticket to finding that I had paid £120 but was expected to stand from London to Liverpool, was so unpleasant that I now drive everywhere.
Matthew Pouncey, Wigan
Yes, I care. I actually use this service. Funny how nobody involved in the decision process has asked for my opinion!
Frazer Mackay, Glasgow
If the decision to change is purely on cost, then yes, I do care who wins because, to use an old adage, “you get what you pay for”. How would the government implement austerity measures on nationalised industries? Not in a way that would benefit the user, that’s for sure.
Gerard Buffham, High Wycombe
I’m less bothered about who wins, more the integrity of the process. We either nationalise the railways or run a healthy and open competition. The current situation seems to be that we do neither.
Barry Griffiths, Essex
If a new entrant believes they can afford to bid significantly more than the incumbent then there’s probably something wrong with their tender. I’d be suspicious about the level of due diligence carried out on the bid.
Michael Crawford, Weybridge, Surrey
Utilities/services of necessity where users have no choice should be renationalised. Logic suggests that bidders who “end-load” repayments to government for a franchise, as I understand may be the case, will walk away if the going gets tough for them – the east coast main line is a prime example. I think I would favour a more uniform repayment schedule.
Robert Falk, London
Who wins is not important but the process is at fault. The franchises have always been to generate money for the government – not to provide a decent public service. Also Virgin and FirstGroup have totally different passenger/growth forecasts.
Graham Robinson, Cumbria
In many people’s eyes Sir Richard Branson is a national treasure and a man of the people. So to award him the contract would be similar to nationalisation – maybe that’s why a right-facing government with a liberal nose job is reluctant to award the contract to him?
Taimore Afzal, Birmingham
Have the appropriate checks been made to see if FirstGroup’s offer is realistic or is it only the bottom line that matters? Only time will tell if there will be a repeat of the east coast mainline situation where the franchise was surrendered.
Richard Goodfellow, Newcastle
I don’t believe any of this is about benefiting me, the customer; isn’t it just about Virgin who have spat the dummy out because they lost.
Peter Airey, Crieff, Perthshire
Privatisation has not proved successful. The taxpayer has still had to contribute whilst the operating companies profiteered greatly. The railways are in a worse state, are less reliable, and overcrowding is common for the travelling public who are required to pay ever-increasing fares. Railways should be run as a public service.
Fulton McInnes, Dunoon, Argyll
How many of the people who have signed the petition to keep Virgin have complained year after year that Virgin is too expensive? The service has improved greatly but how much of that is down to infrastructure and would have happened whoever the operator was?
Roger Bailey, Crewe
Privatisation and the presence of many companies competing for a slice of the cake, all with their own costly management structures, has been a national disgrace.
Richard Young, Manchester
Look abroad to Germany or Switzerland to see integrated public transport systems, particularly rail, where operation is affordable and it works. Here we simply re-franchise and get different uniforms. The only way to get this to work in the UK is nationalisation.
Duncan Saunders, Derby
Sir Richard believes that the decision was made by a group who were unqualified to judge the merits of the two proposals. Ironically, this decision on who runs the west coast main line was made by those who would be in charge if the railways were re-nationalised!
David Maclean, Somerset
I have to admit to wishing for a return to the nationalised service. The customers are merely a source of income that deserve nothing for the extortionate fee levied for the honour of boarding a carriage. You only pay to enter the carriage! To get a seat costs extra!!
Fred Bunce, Gloucester
No one should care who wins the franchise. It should be won by the company who can run it safely whilst offering the best value for money. Unfortunately that appears to be sadly lacking, not only in this case, but in all railway franchises due to the appalling lack of business sense of this and previous governments.
C Sanderson, Stonehaven
Martin Kerr, Barnstaple, Devon
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