Virgin Rail secures West Coast Main Line for two more years
It has been made known that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin trains will continue to run services on the West Coast Main Line for the next 23 months.
It was predicted that Virgin would lose the West Coast Main Line that connects London to Scotland, but the Government has decided to extend the contract after faults were revealed with the bidding process.
The agreement offered to Sir Richard Branson is short-lived and will end on 9th November 2014; thereafter it will be let long-term as a franchise.
The Department for Transport is permitted to shorten the 23 months contract by six months if an appropriate franchise comes up.
The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said in his speech earlier today:
“We are determined to ensure that passengers continue to experience the same levels of service they have in the past, but that services improve. There will be a new hourly service linking Glasgow and London and we will work with Virgin Trains to explore other service improvements.”
Virgin trains had expected to acquire the West Coast Main Line for a further 13 years, but the Department for Transport announced that the franchise had gone to the transport company First Group.
Patrick McLoughlin scrapped the bidding process when Sir Richard Branson threatened legal action and three officials from the Department for Transport took the fall and were suspended.
The Government has put a hold on its plans for the Main Line for the time being, by extending the temporary deal to Virgin from an expected nine to 13 months to up to 23 months.