Chris Grayling’s decision to bring route under public ownership avoids rewarding failure The decision was “very finely balanced”, said transport secretary Chris Grayling, meaning both options on the east coast mainline were terrible from this point of view. He chose the right one. Keeping Stagecoach, under the Virgin Trains banner, on the job would have looked appalling. The operator got its numbers spectacularly wrong when it agreed to pay £3.3bn for an eight-year deal to run the London-to-Edinburgh railway route. It couldn’t even limp into the third year of the deal. To be awarded a “not for profit” follow-on arrangement until 2020 – but one that, critically, could have included a performance-related payment at the end – would have been an unacceptable reward for failing to honour financial commitments.
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