The Laidlaw Inquiry investigated the Department for Transport (DfT) handling of the competition to run passenger trains on the West Coast main line, which was cancelled following the discovery of significant technical flaws in the way the InterCity West Coast franchise process was conducted. It finds that, in seeking to run a complex and novel franchising competition process, an accumulation of significant errors resulted in a flawed subordinated loan facility (SLF) process. (This is the process where the DfT addresses the risk posed by the thinly capitalised nature of the bidders, requiring commitments from the owning groups for an SLF.) The responsibility for this flawed process lies with the Dft rather than with any of its external advisers. Chapters include: scope and work undertaken; the course of events in relation to the SLF sizing process; findings concerning the GDP resilience model; external advisers; contributory factors; lessons to be learned and recommendations. The Inquiry produces a number of specific recommendations on: inadequate planning and preparation; deficiencies in organisational structure and resourcing; lack of efficacy in governance framework. Improvements in quality assurance procedures are essential. Rapid implementation of the recommendations should help to restore confidence in the DfT's ability to conduct effective railway franchising and procurement.
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