Arriva is demanding details on how the bids for the East Midlands franchise were assessed by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Arriva, owned by Germany’s state-backed Deutsche Bahn, has confirmed it is taking legal action against the DfT, after the department awarded a contract for the East Midlands rail franchise to Abellio.
Arriva and its competitor Stagecoach were both barred from bidding on the contract due to “non-compliant” bids, according to the DfT.
Arriva has confirmed it is now “seeking to obtain more information relating to how the bids for the East Midlands franchise were assessed”.
A DfT spokesperson said: “We have total confidence in our franchise competition process and will robustly defend decisions that were taken fairly following a thorough and impartial evaluation process.”
Arriva was disqualified from the bidding process after proposing “significant changes” to commercial terms for the contract, the DfT said in a statement to the International Railway Journal in April.
It continued: “The result is that they are responsible for their own disqualification from the competition in line with the terms of the published invitation to tender.”
The franchise is currently run by Stagecoach, which has also started legal proceedings against the DfT following its disqualification from the bidding process over non-compliant bids.
Last month, the DfT 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.
Stagecoach wrote to the DfT to ask why it had been prevented from bidding for the East Midlands line and called for an extension of the standard 10-day standstill period before awarding the contract to Abellio, due to what the company described as "serious issues".
A spokesperson for Stagecoach said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson 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”.
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