Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson has taken to Twitter to welcome the "great news" of Virgin Trains securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise.
Under the extension deal, West Coast services will continue until March 2017 and a number of "improvements" including increased capacity, new services and "superfast Wifi" will be unveiled.
We’re delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the DfT. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system.
This deal is great news for passengers and taxpayers, with significant benefits for our customers as well as a big increase in the money we pay to government..
We know WiFi is high on our customers’ priorities and we’re delighted that we’re going to be able to offer them free and super-fast WiFi. Together with thousands of extra seats and plans for new services, this deal will mean big improvements for millions of Virgin Trains passengers.”
Under the extension deal for Virgin Trains to continue running a West Coast service until March 2017, the operator plans for Shrewsbury to have two services in each direction Monday to Saturday and one service in each direction on Sunday.
Blackpool North is also expected to have one service in each direction Monday to Friday.
The company has also committed to working with Network Rail on improving journey times, including the remodeling of Carstairs junction in South Lancashire.
Virgin Trains executive chairman Patrick McCall said: "We're delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the Department of Transport.
"It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system."
The Department for Transport has revealed a new deal for Virgin rail services on the West Coast Main Line will bring £35 million worth of benefits for passengers.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced today it will deliver a direct line from Shrewsbury to London, provide thousands more seats and free wifi.
The contract will run for two years and nine months and see the train operator continue to provide passenger journeys between London, Scotland and Wales as the government continues with its multi-billion pound investment to improve and maintain the railways.
The benefits include:
- 21 first-class carriages converted to standard class, delivering 5,500 extra standard seats per day across the network;
- free wifi at stations and improved coverage across the entire fleet;
- more than £20 million invested to modernise and enhance stations, including improving waiting rooms, seats and shelters;
- £2.5 million to improve the interiors of the Pendolino train fleet, as well as £2.75 million spent on improving catering facilities;
- improved station cleanliness and accessibility;
- new targets for passenger satisfaction, train punctuality and cleanliness;
- plans developed to increase car parking at Carlisle, Lancaster and Stafford.
Direct rail services from Shrewsbury to London are being brought back.
It's been announced after Virgin Trains had their contract extended on the West Coast mainline franchise until 2017.
Virgin Trains previously lost out to FirstGroup in the battle for a new 13-year West Coast franchise, but the process was scrapped by the Department for Transport due to errors in the bidding process.
It resulted in a temporary deal allowing Virgin to run the West Coast service until November.
Teachers are staging two days of strike action at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College in a protest over staff restructuring proposals.
Members of the NASUWT union will walk out tomorrow and Thursday, claiming the changes will hit workload and pay.
The college says it's facing significant funding cuts and is having to reduce some of the allowances it makes to staff with responsibilities for particular curriculum areas to avoid redundancies. The principal says there will be disruption but the college will remain open on both days.
A 14-year-boy has been arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault on a 10-year-old girl.
The girl was attacked on land near the Arc car wash off St Michael's Street in Shrewsbury on Friday afternoon, between 3.30pm and 4.30pm.
Witnesses or anyone with information are urged to call police on 101 quoting reference 599s 11/04/14.
West Mercia Police have appealed for information to catch a youth who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in broad daylight.
The attacker is described as white and between the ages of 13 and 17.
We need anyone who was in the area of St Michael's Street on Friday afternoon and saw anyone acting suspiciously to get in touch - any tiny piece of information could be useful. We would particularly like to speak to anyone who saw a teenage male with a younger girl between 3.45pm and 4pm.
Also, if you think you may know who the boy is, you need to contact the police immediately. We believe he is local, not least because he seems to have good knowledge of the area.
West Mercia Police have issued a warning after a 10-year-old girl was subjected to a sustained and serious sexual assault in broad daylight.
The attack happened on Friday afternoon in Shrewsbury as the girl walked along St Michael's Road towards Ditherington Road when she was approached by her attacker.
The attacker thought to be white and aged between 13 and 17 led the girl behind a container near a car wash where he assaulted her.
Police have issued a warning to families with young children to be extra cautious.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Marsden, who is leading the investigation, said:
I would recommend that, if at all possible, primary school-aged children are supervised when away from home either by yourselves or a trusted adult.
This week it is the Easter holidays, so for the time being, we suggest parents make sure they know where their children are and if possible stay in contact via mobile phone.