So, why were they excused?

Essentially the joint venture between Stagecoach and Richard Branson’s Virgin that had won the franchise to run the line from 2015 to 2023 found it had overbid and wanted out of the deal. Grayling stepped in and allowed them to pull the plug without the companies having to pay around £2bn that was payable for the final years. Adonis was outraged.

“The manner of doing so, was in my view, deplorable,” says Adonis. “He used some smokescreen about reopening closed Beeching lines and bringing Thomas the Tank Engine back to East Grinstead [to conceal what he was really doing]. He didn’t spell out that what this meant was that the companies were going to be excused from making £2bn worth of payments to the government.”

The result, Adonis says, is that “there is going to be a massive loss to the taxpayer as a result of this”.

Adonis calls the move a “scandal” because it is, he argues, taxpayers who will be left to pick up the bill, and rail users who will be hit with still higher fares.

Because the taxpayer, in the form of Network Rail, has fucked up.

30 thoughts on “So, why were they excused?”

  1. Nice of Lord Dickless to acknowledge what we all know to be true: That no “Mandarin” backs Brexit. Why would they since it is a massive power loss to them and means they can’t join forces with the unelected, unaccountable Eurotrash elite.

    Sack the Senior Civil Service en masse NOW. Sans compo sans pension and with all their so called “honours” stripped from them.

    That will be a colossal strike for freedom in this country. And will put the Fear of God up legions of bureaucratic scum all across the Globe.

  2. > “the taxpayer, in the form of Network Rail, has fucked up.”

    I can’t go along with that assertion. If I pay over the odds for something, then it is I, the buyer, who has fucked up; not the seller. Virgin/Stagecoach paid too much; the seller was (on the face of it) a mug, and gave them a refund.

    There may well be second-degree reasons why they were allowed to walk away from the contract, such as not scaring away other bidders, thereby ensuring they get enough bids at the next auction. That seems to have escaped Adonis – or he is ignoring it for the purpose of political point-scoring.

  3. It isn’t as if he was going to be any trouble outside the tent trying to piss in. No-one gave a shit what he thought, and with the current Nutjobs in charge of Labour he had the life expectancy of a snowflake in a pizza oven there.

    Only by being brought into the government was he given any platform at all, and of course he duly used it.

    Truly the Stupid Party.

  4. We don’t know if the franchising contract has points that can trigger a renegotiation.
    We know that the EU membership contract has a trigger mechanism to get out, but it doesn’t stop the people getting the UK’s money thinking they are entitled to what they would have got anyway.

  5. I would imagine their was a presumption by Virgin, Stagecoach and Network Rail that the franchise would be profitable enough to pay the billions in the contract and hence no-one would want to walk away from the contract, early break clauses etc. As it turns out, they were wrong.

  6. and rail users who will be hit with still higher fares.

    I am presuming these will be unregulated fares. For regulated fares rail users will pay the maximum allowed fare regardless of who or if anyone “fucks up”, because it is a guaranteed fare rise every year, enshrined in law.

  7. If rail franchises are being expected to pay for new lines then that is crazy – the payoff for these lines, if any, extends way past the end of the current contract. Who would want to pay billions knowing they could (and probably would) lose the franchise at the next bidding round?

  8. The accusation is very clear. I’m sure the background is complex, but it’s now up to CG to explain why this accusation is wrong.

    I find this explanation credible: “… the transport secretary was simply averse to taking the East Coast line into public ownership because he did not want to do anything to legitimise Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of returning the rail system to state ownership. As a result, he allowed the private sector off the financial hook.”

    I can’t understand how CG could sneak £2bn past the treasury. Maybe he didn’t and AA is wrong. Maybe he did and it’s Tory policy. Maybe it’s incompetence.

  9. @DaveC Grayling isn’t getting money out of the Treasury to pay anyone. He is letting them out of a contract which lets them off paying 2 billion to the government. Need permission to not pay money to the government? Probably not.

  10. @Alex £2bn is £2bn. If it affects future receipts, then the treasury will need to make up the shortfall from elsewhere.

  11. This is East Coast right?

    Upgrades to that have had all sorts of problems, probably going back to RailTrack, and I think the aftermath of Hatfield caused delays as well.

    IIRC, part of the deal was that Network Rail would (finally) upgrade the line, and Virgin/Stagecoach would put high speed trains on it, and they bid for the franchise on that basis.

    Network Rail failed to provide the necessary, so the franchisees want out.

    Don’t have a problem with that.

    Adonis is a twat, and can FOAD until he manages to actually get elected.

  12. Social Justice Warrior

    This one does smell. Stagecoach/Virgin were awarded the contract because they were the highest bidders, but most of the payments were to be in the last few years. (£205m were paid in the first year of 3.3bn for eight years.) So by letting them out now the government has made a nonsense of the original bidding process.

  13. Perhaps they’ve learnt from the 3g spectrum auctions and decided it is better to allow all the parties to walk away and get it right a second time rather than insist an over-the-odds cost is adhered to.

    Adonis’s comment that many operators have overbid suggests something is going wrong yet his choice would be to carry on regardless.

  14. To add to the above: Adonis would carry on regardless using the operators as a cash cow until the operators run out of money, and then nationalise the lines to much applause.

  15. Most of the anticipated payments were indeed back-end loaded, because that is when passengers and the franchisee were supposed to be benefitting from the upgrades promised by Network Rail.

  16. “No mandarin backs May. Government has broken down’”

    Absolute classic example of the Civil Service and the establishment not knowing its place. The proper order of things is the government has the democratic mandate, decides what it wants and employs the Civil Service to do what it is told. However, today the Civil Service believes IT makes the decisions. Senior civil servants (and yes, I do know them personally) were outraged, absolutely outraged at the electorate”s affrontory in thinking it was allowed to choose to leave the EU. The reaction amongst senior civil servants was “How dare those people presume that THEY make the decisions? Don’t they know their place? Do they think they’re the governing class?”

    Andrew Adonis witnesses the opinions of senior civil servants and believes our nation’s direction should alter to fit their view. He and they have it as backward as it is possible to have it.

  17. I’ve been watching Network Rails ‘progress’ in electrifying the old GWR line over the last few years – they appear to do a bit of work, then stop for months, then do a bit more, then another few months of nothing. One day I watched 7 men who were stood round one gantry pylon – 2 of them were working on it in some way, the rest were just watching.

  18. I was watching what was going on on the other side of the country and had my back turned….

    The extended legal punch-up over the west coast main line has enriched quite a few lawyers… It’s still not clear to me what actually happened there – or is it still happening? The officials managed to screw up so badly that both the bidders regardless of who got to run trains had a big case for damages against HMG.

    Will all the attention Adonis has been getting – I don’t recall it being pointed out that he’s a leading perpetrator of HS2.

  19. @ironman, it’s a requisite skill of leadership that you are able to take the people with you. It’s no good standing at the front and declaring that “I’m in charge now”.

    A skillful politician has to lead enough of their party, the HoC, the public and all other stakeholders to make a success of their project. They also have to pick their projects carefully.

    If they don’t have leadership skills to convince people to follow them, then they can use carrots or sticks, but it’s much less effective, and the most difficult projects will fail that way.

    Unfortunately, Brexit is a difficult project and will require real leadership to pull off well. It started badly on day one when Nigel Farage, having won, decided that gloating was a politically savvy strategy to achieve his objective. And May’s government has done no better.

    You may now appreciate the political skill of those who took us into Europe with the backing of only half the population and little backing from the media.

  20. “You may now appreciate the political skill of those who took us into Europe with the backing of only half the population and little backing from the media.”

    Its called being a pack of lying cunts.

    And telling those lies to people who haven’t yet had the experience to discover for themselves what scum their leaders were and are.

    And bollocks to Nigel Farage ‘s “gloating” being a problem. The scummery of BluLabour is the real issue.

  21. £2 Billion is peanuts compared to the Adonis supported >£100 Billion cost of HS2 [shiny new toy] which fails every sensible positive cost/benefit or NPV calculation.

    No doubt Adonis also supports Hinkley C and Swansea Tidal Barrage.

    He’s a supercilious cnut.

  22. @ex poster Wow! Ezezine really knows what he’s talking about. He makes all the special and bullshit on this blog look rather amateur.

  23. I’m still hoping someone will answer the question in the OP, which I will expand to: what if any upgrades was the government contractually obliged to provide, on what schedule, why were they not provided, and why hasn’t the government said anything about it?

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