Virgin to run West Coast line

Rail operator Virgin has been asked to continue running the West Coast Main Line for another 9-13 months. The Government's temporary fix comes after its u-turn over the award of a new franchise to First Great Western earlier this month.

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Branson to highlight past franchising failures in rail battle

  • Unless two bids are close together in value, the preferred offer is compared against an academic model drawn up by the DfT.
  • FirstGroup, which outbid Virgin by more than £1bn to run the West Coast Main Line, maintains that its offer can be delivered and is a better deal for taxpayers.
  • However, the West Coast contract remains in doubt after Sir Richard launched legal action against the DfT on the day FirstGroup was due to sign the paperwork for the franchise.

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Sir Richard Branson takes rail case to MPs

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains has launched a legal challenge to the Government’s decision to award West Coast main line rail franchise to FirstGroup.

Sir Richard Branson will use a hearing to criticise the decision Credit: Martin Keene/PA Archive

The entrepreneur will use a hearing before MPs to criticise a system that has seen firms fail to run their routes at a profit, leaving taxpayers’ to foot the bill.

Branson’s legal challenge to the 14-year contract means First Group may not get the keys to the line as scheduled on 9 December.

The West Coast franchise row: A timeline

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