THE competition to run the Great Western mainline has been delayed after significant technical flaws were found in another bid.

Virgin Trains boss Sir Richard Branson challenged the outcome of the West Coast mainline competition after the right to run the route’s trains from December was awarded by the Government to First Group rather than his company, which has operated the route since 1996.

Now the Department for Transport has confirmed there were flaws with the way the franchise bid was conducted and has halted all other competitions pending an independent review, including for the franchise running through Oxfordshire which runs out next year.

Four companies are currently bidding to run the Great Western mainline. They are Stagecoach, National Express, Arriva, a subsidiary of the German state rail company Deutsche Bahn, and First Group, which currently runs the franchise.