It was one of the biggest prizes up for grabs on Britain's rail network.
The route links the West Midlands with London, the north west and Scotland using tilting trains on a line which saw one of the biggest rail upgrades in history.
It was no surprise then that after 15 years, Richard Branson's Virgin Rail Group were keen to hold on to the West Coast Mainline rail route. But rival bidders FirstGroup had seemed poised to win the franchise, and this morning that news was confirmed.
Mr Branson had already made his views very clear to the Government over First's bid, and this morning he was certainly not holding back, describing the decision as "insanity".
FirstGroup meanwhile has welcomed the decision, promising to cut some ticket prices and introduce more trains and more frequent services.
It will be welcome news for rail campaigners in Shropshire, who will now see a direct service to London from Telford and Shrewsbury introduced.
FirstGroup will take over the InterCity West Coast line in December and will introduce:
- Reduced Standard Anytime fares by 15% on average
- 11 new 125mph six-car electric trains to operate on Birmingham-Glasgow services
- A new direct services from Telford and Shrewsbury to London and Blackpool
- More stops at Nuneaton and Milton Keynes
- A major refurbishment of all Pendolino and Voyager, with new seats throughout and improved luggage space
- Improved journey time of 15 minutes for trains between London and Glasgow
- Doubling frequency of London to Preston services and adding capacity to Chester and North Wales