1. ITV Report

Mounting pressure on Transport Secretary to delay signing train contract

Virgin Trains have been running the West Coast line since 1997 Photo: PA

Mounting pressure to delay the signing of the West Coast rail franchise contract is being felt by the Transport Secretary, as MP's call for the deal to be debated in the Commons.

Virgin Trains lost the deal, which currently runs trains between London and Glasgow, as the Government awarded the contract to FirstGroup.

But the move has proven controversial with celebrities, MPs and thousands of members of the public.

Sir Richard dubbed the franchise system "insane" after the Department for Transport (DfT) last week announced that Virgin Trains has lost out to transport company FirstGroup in the battle to operate a new 13-year West Coast franchise from December 2012.

The Chairman of the Commons' Transport Committee, Louise Ellman is calling for Transport Secretary Justine Greening to delay the contract signing which is currently scheduled for 28th of August.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary Ms Ellman wrote that she wanted time to raise the matter with her committee colleagues and that she was proposing a possible public meeting of the committee on the subject on September 11th.

A petition calling for a debate in Parliament over the franchise was launched by a customer of Virgin Trains and now has over 77,500 signatures.

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