Taxpayers' £50m West Coast bill

Taxpayers will face a "significant" bill of around £50m over the West Coast rail franchise fiasco, the Government's spending watchdog has warned.

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Virgin may lose rail franchise

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.

Sir Richard Branson boarding a Virgin train. Credit: PA

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.

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