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Virgin Chief 'delighted' with West Coast deal

I'm delighted that we have an agreement with the DfT that gives us the chance to continue providing high-quality services to our customers.

We have had great support from staff and customers in recent months and we will repay that loyalty with even better service.

We will not be sitting back in the coming months, but are keen to introduce more improvements to the service.

– Virgin Rail Group chief executive Tony Collins

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Transport Secretary: 'Determined that services improve'

We are determined to ensure not only that passengers continue to experience the same levels of service they have in the past, but that services improve.

There will be a new hourly service linking Glasgow and London and we will also work with Virgin Trains to explore other service improvements.

I am also extremely pleased that passengers will benefit from up to 28,000 more seats daily thanks to the delivery of 106 new Pendolino carriages on to the West Coast line which has happened on budget and ahead of schedule.

– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Transport Sec to address rail line future

The immediate future of a main London to Scotland rail route - thrown into doubt following a botched franchise process - is likely to become clearer later today.

The Government is expected to announce that Sir Richard Branson's train company, Virgin Rail, can for a time carry on running trains on the West Coast Main Line.

It is believed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin could also publish the independent report he commissioned when he was forced to scrap the West Coast franchise bidding process.

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Transport Secretary to address rail line future

The immediate future of a main London to Scotland rail route - thrown into doubt following a botched franchise process - should become clearer today.

Virgin is expected to continue running the West Coast Main Line for the time being Credit: Martin Keene/PA Wire

The Government is expected to announce that Sir Richard Branson's train company, Virgin Rail, can for a time carry on running trains on the West Coast Main Line.

It is believed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin could also publish the independent report he commissioned when he was forced to scrap the West Coast franchise bidding process.

The West Coast rail fiasco: What happened

The Department for Transport (DfT), with Justine Greening as transport secretary, announced in August that it had awarded a new 13-year franchise for the West Coast line not to Sir Richard Branson's rail company Virgin Trains but to rival transport company FirstGroup.

The West Coast Main runs from Glasgow (pictured) to London Credit: Martin Keene/PA Wire

But at the beginning of this month, Mr McLoughlin, who took over from Ms Greening in the early autumn Government reshuffle, pulled the plug on the West Coast bidding.

He laid the blame "fairly and squarely" on the DfT officials. Three DfT civil servants have been suspended.

The faults with the process were discovered as the DfT prepared to defend a legal challenge to the West Coast decision brought by Sir Richard who labelled the bidding process "insane".

Transport Secretary faces rail fiasco quiz

A Government minister and his department boss will face a grilling from MPs today over the West Coast rail franchise fiasco.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Members of the House of Commons Transport Committee will be armed with a damning initial report into what Labour has described as a "shambles" of a bidding process.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Department for Transport (DfT) permanent secretary Philip Rutnam will have to explain why the DfT went ahead with the West Coast bidding competition knowing the process was flawed.

Mr McLoughlin will also be asked why he told MPs on his first appearance before the committee in September that he was happy with the bidding process only for him to scrap the entire West Coast refranchising process a few weeks later.

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