West Coast mainline row

The Labour Party is calling on the Government not to sign off the new contract for the West Coast mainline franchise, which includes the route from Holyhead to Euston, until MPs have been able to scrutinise it in detail.

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Branson attends hearing over West Coast Mainline row

Sir Richard Branson will attend a Transport Committee hearing over the decision to award the West Coast Mainline rail franchise to rival company, First Group.

Virgin Trains have held the contract, which operates the services from Holyhead to Euston,15 years.

Last week he launched a legal challenge to prompt a review into the decision.

Since Branson's court challenge, Government Ministers had to admit to MPs that they have not yet been able to sign the contract with First Group.

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UK Government delay signing new West Coast Rail contract

Virgin currently operated services across North Wales Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Department for Transport have confirmed that they have so far not signed a contact with First Group to take over the running of the West Coast Mainline. The company were named as preferred bidders for the route last month, which sparked a court challenge from current operator Virgin Trains.

Virgin Trains have run the franchise for the past 15 years. The company is now looking for a judicial review into the decision to award the contract to its rival company, FirstGroup.

Rail Minister, Theresa Villiers, said the Government would "robustly" defend the case following the decision to award the West Coast Mainline contract to FirstGroup.

In a statement to MPs she said: "As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live." .

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