Group challenged disqualification from franchise competitions – but High Court has sided with secretary of state for transport


The High Court has ruled against Stagecoach Group’s claims against the secretary of state for transport regarding decisions to disqualify it from three rail franchise competitions. The disqualifications saw the group exit the UK rail franchising market.

The Perth-based group decided to sue the government after last year being disqualified from bidding for the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership franchise competitions, and the abandoned contest for South Eastern.

The case centred on the disqualification from bidding after Stagecoach and its partners refused to take on what the group termed “unknowable risk” in pensions liabilities. Lawyers for the group had blasted the Railway Pensions Scheme as a “basket case” and claimed rail franchising was in crisis.

Our view remains that we were right not to accept the risks in these contracts

Commenting on today’s judgement, the group said: “We believe there were important issues which needed to be determined by the court to help secure the future of the country’s rail system and our view remains that we were right not to accept the risks in these contracts.

“Nevertheless, while we are disappointed at today’s ruling, we accept the decision and move on. The country is facing a huge challenge in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and all of our energies are focused on ensuring our transport networks help the national effort at this critical time.”

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