Arriva Rail becomes second operator to sue DfT over East Midlands franchise

Rail giant Arriva is suing the government after it lost its bid to run the East Midlands railway franchise.

Arriva, owned by Germany's state-backed Deutsche Bahn, is suing the government after it lost its bid to run the franchise, which was awarded to Abellio in April, and has demanded more information on how the DfT assesses the bids.

The move follows an announcement by Stagecoach last Wednesday that it had filed legal action against the DfT alleging that the department had breached its statutory duties under an European Union regulation that requires the government to adopt a "competitive tendering process" and which is open to all operators and conducted in a "fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner". Stagecoach was also angered that information on its bid was leaked to Abellio, which runs five other United Kingdom rail franchises, before the Dutch company won the contract.

In early May, the government disqualified Stagecoach the current owner of the franchise as well as South Eastern and West Coast franchises, after the DfT raised concerns about its pension commitments.

Arriva's claim refers to the earlier High Court submission by Stagecoach as the same "case type". As a result, regrettably we have had no option but to commence legal action against the DfT to ensure the serious issues involved and the DfT's opaque decision-making are subject to proper public scrutiny. "However, 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". This means Stagecoach, once one of the biggest train operators, will disappear from Britain's railways.

Arriva's bid for the East Midlands line was also disqualified by the DfT for being "non-compliant". Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: "Abellio is pleased and proud to have been confirmed as Franchisee for the East Midlands Railway".

"Despite our continued requests for full transparency around these matters, many fundamental questions remain unanswered".

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