Sir Richard Branson's train company is set to lose its West Coast main line rail franchise in a Government decision which will spark a storm of protest.
In an imminent announcement, the Government is expected to say that transport giant FirstGroup has beaten Virgin Rail in the new-franchise battle to run the London to Scotland line.
It will mean an end to Virgin's 15 years of operating the line which has seen tilting, high-speed Pendolino trains serve such cities as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
The West Coast carried around 13 million passengers a year in 1997. The annual total is now around 31 million.