The chairwoman of the Commons Transport Select Committee has described the calculator cutbacks that led to the West Coast franchise fiasco as "short term thinking at it's worst," and "an accident waiting to happen."
Labour MP Louise Ellman has said that the "sadly inevitable" mistakes by Department for Transport (DfT) staff were largely caused by deep cuts to office equipment budgets across Whitehall, and forced the Government to scrap the franchise tendering process and award £40m of compensation.
"Civil servants can't be expected to do their jobs properly without the right equipment," said the shrill Liverpool Riverside MP. "The amounts of money the UK is throwing at bearded billionaires are simply too big to be counted on fingers, especially after staff cuts reduced the available number of digits. This is just another example of the Coalition failing to consider the bigger impact of their policies."
Patrick McLoughlin, new Secretary of State for Transport and sweating heavily, told us that "This Government is committed to reducing the deficit and getting the best deal for Britain. These cutbacks have simply made the tendering process more efficient. Unlike Labour, trains will run on time under the Coalition Government. And that's because instead of detailed modelling, we'll just make stuff up. That is much, much quicker."
Three senior civil servants in DfT have been suspended as a result of the fiasco. Two further civil servants in other Departments have also been suspended, for laughing.