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.


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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