- 1997: Virgin Rail begins running the West Coast Main Line after being awarded a 15-year contract.
- 2011: The Department for Transport (DfT) invites bids from companies interested in taking over the rail franchise from Virgin in December 2012.
- Aug 15 2012: The DfT awards the franchise to FirstGroup. More than 150,000 people sign an online petition calling for the decision to be reconsidered.
- Aug 27 2012: Labour and Sir Richard Branson urge the Government to delay signing the contract. The DfT says there is "no reason" to delay.
- Aug 28 2012: Virgin starts High Court proceedings demanding a judicial review. The DfT stated it was confident the competition process was robust. Singing of the contract is delayed due to the legal proceedings.
- Oct 3 2012: The DfT announce the deal with FirstGroup has been scrapped.
The mess that is emerging over the bidding process for the West Coast Main Line will be costly and raise the question of re-nationalisation.
The decision to award FirstGroup the West Coast Main Line rail franchise has been cancelled, the Department for Transport said.