Plans for the future of the West Coast main line contract have been revealed
The Department of Transport has announced that Virgin trains will continue running the west Coast mainline for up to the next 13 months.
Scotland's Transport Minister will outline his concerns at Holyrood
Sir Richard Branson, boss of the Virgin Group, will give evidence to MPs on the controversial re-awarding of the West Coast mainline franchise.
Virgin has run the line since 1997 but last month it lost the renewed contract to rival operator FirstGroup. Virgin has launched a legal challenge to that decision.
Sir Richard is expected to question the entire bidding process, when he appears before MPs on the Transport Select Committee. The committee will also hear from the Chief Executive of FirstGroup, Tim O'Toole. He is likely to defend his company's bid and argue that its plans are realistic.
Legal action by Virgin Rail has stopped the Government signing a contract awarding the West Coast Mainline franchise, which runs through Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway, to a rival bidder.
MPs were told by the Rail Minister, the Government would "robustly" defend the case following the decision to award the contract to FirstGroup.
Theresa Villiers told MPs in a written statement "As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live"
A Cumbrian MP has called for Virgin Trains loss of the West Coast Main Line to be debated in Parliament, after a petition urging the Government reconsider the decision gained over 100,000 signatures.
Virgin Trains was recently stripped of the contract to run trains on the west coast main line, one it's held since 1997. The Government awarded the franchise to FirstGroup. Unions fear the move means job cuts but FirstGroup have said they'll bring key improvements and investments to the line.
"Our business plan calls for jobs to remain largely flat. All these statements that we're going to cut all the catering jobs couldn't be further from the truth. In fact we're going to expand catering. We're going to do more catering because it's all about attracting people on to the railway. So no, we aren't cutting jobs."
A petition was set up and it now has over 100,000 signatures on it. This could potentially trigger a debate on the issue in the House of Commons if the petition gains support from MPs and is picked by the Backbench Business Committee.
“I think we must listen to the public and debate this issue in Parliament. Over 100,000 people have signed the petition – we must allow the case to be put and hear the Government's reply.
"On my annual surgery summer tour it has been the top concern my constituents have wanted to talk about. If we don’t discuss this it will just make people even more cynical about Westminster politics.”
Sir Richard Branson has said he's 'extremely disappointed' by the Government's decision to award the franchise of the West Coast Mainline to another company. Virgin Trains have run the line for 15 years. In a statement Branson said he was proud of the work that's been done by his team.
Sir Richard Branson has lost the battle to continue running the West Coast Mainline. It was announced this morning that FirstGroup will take over the running of the line between London and Scotland.
Virgin has been operating the service since 1997. It is believed FirstGroup bid £7 billion for the franchise.
Sir Richard Branson's train company Virgin Rail has lost its West Coast main line franchise, with transport company FirstGroup taking over from December, the Government announced today.