Rail operator Arriva has joined Stagecoach in taking ministers to court over the East Midlands rail franchise.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced last month that the franchise would be awarded to Abellio for up to 10 years.
Arriva runs the Northern franchise
Last week Stagecoach, which currently runs services on the route, said it was launching legal action over what it called the DfT’s ‘opaque decision-making’.
The DfT said it had barred Stagecoach from bidding for the East Midlands and two other franchises on grounds over non-compliance relating to pension arrangements. It has been reported that Arriva was disqualified from bidding for the East Midlands deal for similar reasons, leaving Abellio as the sole bidder.
Arriva confirmed that it was taking legal action. A spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that we are seeking to obtain more information relating to how the bids for the East Midlands franchise were assessed.’
The DfT said in response to both threats of legal proceedings: ‘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.’
Last week Labour accused Mr Grayling of ‘not being straight with Parliament’ on the issue after it was reported that a DfT document stated that ‘all bids contained some non-compliances’.
The DfT pointed out in response that competition rules allow elements of bids that are non-compliant to be resolved.
A spokesperson said at the time: 'Abellio submitted a compliant bid and have been awarded the East Midlands Railway franchise on the basis of clear guidance that was issued in advance of the bid process.'