Stagecoach has sent a legal letter to the Department for Transport (DfT) demanding answers to “numerous legitimate questions” over a controversial decision to exclude the company from bidding on several rail franchises.
Last week, the government department announced that Stagecoach had been disqualified from bidding on three contracts for East Midlands, South Eastern and West Coast Partnership services after submitting “non-compliant bids.”
While the South Eastern and West Coast Partnership contracts have yet to be awarded, the East Midlands franchise was awarded to Abellio.
This has prompted lawyers for Stagecoach to write the DfT and ask why it was prevented from bidding on the East Midlands line, which Stagecoach currently runs.
Stagecoach is also calling for the standard 10-day standstill period after the franchise award to be extended by a further 14 days, due to what the company describes as "serious issues" which have emerged. This would give it until Wednesday 8 May to try to reverse the decision.
A spokesperson for Stagecoach told SM: “We can confirm we have written to the DfT seeking answers to the numerous legitimate questions many people have about their decision.
“We expect a prompt, full and transparent response to help restore public confidence in the integrity of the government’s procurement process, which has been badly shaken by this and other recent events.”
However, the DfT claims that Stagecoach had submitted “non-compliant bids” which “breached established rules” around pension provision.
A DfT spokesperson said: “We have total confidence in our process. We have awarded the East Midlands franchise to Abellio after they presented a strong, compliant bid."
They added: “It is entirely for Stagecoach and their bidding partners to explain why they decided to repeatedly ignore established rules by rejecting the commercial terms on offer.”
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson has said the DfT decision means that Virgin Trains, who bid to run West Coast services in partnership with Stagecoach, “could be gone from the UK in November.”