- 26 updates
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has apologised for the continuing uncertainty over the future of the West Coast Main Line as he confirmed plans for Virgin to remain as temporary operator.
Busy commuters in Manchester have told me they are happy with Virgin's handling of the West Coast Main Line.
The Department of Transport has confirmed it will "negotiate with Virgin Rail Group" for them to continue to operate rail services on the West Coast Main Line for a "short period" of nine to 13 months.
During the period, an open competition will be run for an "interim franchise agreement".
The interim agreement will then run until the new long term West Coast franchise is ready to start. The Department added: "The government believes that this is the best way to ensure services are maintained and that there is no impact on passengers."
Virgin will continue to run train services on the West Coast Main Line temporarily after securing an extension.
Sir Richard Branson's company will remain in control of the line for between nine and 13 months before interim and long-term providers are decided upon.
FirstGroup chief executive Tim O'Toole refuted claims made by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson today over the company having "cash issues", despite being offered the rail franchise bid.
Mr O'Toole told the House of Commons Transport Committee that the allegations Virgin had made were "flat wrong". He said:
The Department for Transport (DfT) did not follow its own rules over the West Coast main line franchise bidding process, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson told MPs today.
Sir Richard said Virgin was recommending that the current rules and regulations for franchise should be completely reviewed and the award of a new West Coast franchise should be delayed until the review is complete. He continued:
Sir Richard Branson told the House of Commons Transport Committee that awarding the West Coast mainline to FirstGroup would be "bad for the country".
He said that the Government had accepted a "risky bid" over a more "deliverable and financially robust" business. Sir Richard Branson said:
"If it is allowed to stand, it will be bad for the country, bad for passengers on the West Coast mainline and bad for passengers on other franchises. A bad decision will impact the UK".
Sir Richard Branson was given an enthusiastic welcome by crowds outside Westminster today as he prepared to take the West Coast mainline case to MPs. He is giving evidence this afternoon to the Transport Committee and told ITV News "we will keep fighting".
Latest ITV News reports
Rail operator Virgin has been asked to continue running the West Coast mainline for another few months after a Government U-turn.
One railway line, one fudged bid, three more sets of negotations and three years to put it right.