Bright morning in the East Midlands: the rising sun illuminates Nos 222019 and 222103 as they leave Kettering with the 06.31 Nottingham to London St Pancras service on 2 May 2019. Mick Alderman

There is a strong whiff of déjà vu about the disqualification of Stagecoach and Virgin from three franchise procurement exercises. In two cases, the bidding is still live – if that adjective can be applied to the long-running, extended South Eastern franchise, where a second re-bid has reportedly failed to produce an affordable compliant offer.

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