After Virgin Rail lost its bid to continue running the West Coast Mainline to FirstGroup, everyone has already begun asking how many government ministers have shares in the rail operator.
The government revealed that after a meeting in which ministers compared their investment portfolios, FirstGroup’s bid was by far the best.
“The bids were scrutinised very closely to see which would offer the best value,” revealed a government spokesperson.
“Who could offer substantial improvements and frequency of services were both looked at, but one thing that stood out more than anything was that dividends can be paid directly into minister’s bank accounts.”
West Coast Franchise
The West Coast franchise is one of several big rail franchises up for grabs, and the government insists it is determined to secure the best deals.
“Some people would argue that the bid that promises the highest financial return is not always the best bid,” the spokesperson explained.
“They might point out the many examples where very aggressive bids have been made which the government has awarded, and then quite soon afterwards, the winning bidder has walked away from the contract without any real penalty.”
“From a public interest point of view that would be disappointing, but they can cross that bridge when they come to it.”
“And let’s be honest, they should be used to it by now.”