Justine Greening

This post originally attributed the statement to Justine Greening, the transport secretary. It was actually issued by her ministerial colleague, Theresa Villiers. Apologies.

Justine Greening Theresa Villiers has just announced she has not signed a contract with FirstGroup to run the West Coast mainline as she was expected to do last week because of the legal challenge from Virgin Trains. Here is the transport minister’s full statement (emphasis mine):

On the 15 August 2012 the Department for Transport announced to the London Stock Exchange that it intended to award the InterCity West Coast franchise to First West Coast Limited, a subsidiary of First Group.

Bids were received from Abellio InterCity West Coast Limited – NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen, First West Coast Limited – FirstGroup plc, Keolis/SNCF West Coast Limited – Keolis SA and SNCF, Virgin Trains Limited – Virgin Group Holdings Limited.

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The issue of whether to grant permission for a third runway at Heathrow is starting to become a festering sore for the Tories. Although coalition policy is not to allow it, pressure has been building for a while on the party to commit to reversing that decision if they win a majority in 2015.

David Cameron and George Osborne have been quietly persuaded that a u-turn in party policy is needed, but are unwilling to make that their public stance until 2015.

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh

In the meantime the aviation industry is getting impatient. Willie Walsh made his frustrations clear in an unusually outspoken and personal attack on the PM in the FT this morning. The chief executive of International Airlines Group, which controls BA, called the lack of progress a “disgrace”. He added:

I don’t believe this government has the political will to address the issues. David Cameron seems a lot happier clapping and cheering for gold medals than dealing with tough, long-term economic challenges.

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Another week, another executive in the line of fire over their bonus. This week it is Sir David Higgins, the plain-speaking Australian in charge of Network Rail, which manages the country’s rail infrastructure.

NR members are about to vote on the pay structure under which executives will be allocated their bonuses later this year. The scheme could see Sir David pocket a £340,000 annual bonus (plus much more in long-term incentives), which has triggered anger given the company’s declining performance.

Justine Greening has now said she will become the first transport secretary in the company’s ten-year history to get involved with its administration when she attends a meeting to vote against the scheme.

But before she does so (in comments made, in fact, before the whole controversy blew up), Sir David has got his retaliation in first.

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