I created a petition to encourage the UK government to rethink the decision to award the West Coast Mainline franchise to First Group, ending 15 years of the successful Virgin Trains in the UK.
Shortly after midnight on 3rd October the Department for Transport announced they had discovered "significant technical flaws" in the process and that the competition must be re-run.
Virgin Rail will now continue to operate the service until at least April 2017
Unfortunately for democracy, and the ePetitions system, this decision was not made in direct response to the 170,000+ people who had signed the petition - although I have no doubt it did raise public awareness and support - but rather these "significant flaws" were only discovered as the DfT prepared a defence to a legal challenge by Virgin.
A debate took place in Westminster Hall, started by Rosie Cooper MP, on September 17th which can be viewed online in which the DfT were very evasive and appeared to stand by their original decision and supposedly 'robust process'.
It is clear that had Virgin Rail Group not sought a judicial review in the courts the Government would have not have listened to the concerns of those signing the petition who knew from the very beginning something was wrong with this process.
This raises a few questions; Where does this leave other petitions ? What about other decisions that are made which are clearly wrong or not in the public interest but where there isn't a huge company like Virgin behind them with the resources to challenge the Government in the courts ? Will they continue to be ignored ?
The petition text can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37180
Since starting the petition many have climbed aboard encouraging support - including numerous celebrity personalities alongside Virgin Trains themselves, Sir Richard Branson personally and campaign groups such as Reinstate Virgin who are all making a determined effort to raise awareness of the petition.
The public and media response to this petition has been overwhelming (I was even interviewed live on BBC News, which is probably the most daunting experience I've ever had, and had an article published in The Times, there's something I never thought I'd say)
All media enquiries regarding my involvement or the petition should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.