Rail unions tore into the government today for doling out a raft of lucrative contracts on the day it was heavily criticised for mishandling the £5 billion West Coast Main Line deal.
A report by the transport select committee of MPs said the Department for Transport had embarked on an "ambitious, perhaps unachievable" reform in haste.
The report claimed ministers and senior officials had been lied to when FirstGroup was originally told it had won its bid to take over the West Coast Main Line from Virgin Trains.
The decision was then scrapped.
But as MPs picked apart this fiasco Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin unveiled short-term plans for several other franchises.
First Great Western has had its contract extended until October and negotiations will start on a new two-year contract, and Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern and Essex Thameside will be offered interim two-year contracts while competitions are launched.
The last three were put on hold last October in the wake of the scrapping of the West Cost franchise after discovery of "significant" departmental technical flaws in the process.
Rail unions joined to condemn the "mortally wounded" franchise system and called for a renationalisation of the rail network.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the report showed that the "whole system is flawed and needs to be replaced," and RMT general secretary Bob Crow called for the "lies, deceit and racketeering" of rail privatisation to be stopped now.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes branded the franchise system as "mortally wounded and bleeding to death before our very eyes."
Plaid Cymru transport spokesman Jonathan Edwards said that he would prefer the Great Western franchise to be operated by the government-owned Directly Operated Railways, which currently runs the East Coast Main Line.