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Virgin Trains to run West Coast main line until 2017


Virgin Trains to run West Coast main line until 2017
By David Bartlett
 Mar 26 2013from : http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2013/03/26/100252-33061702/ 

VIRGIN Trains will run the West Coast main line until April 2017 the government announced today.
The ECHO reported yesterday the firm could be given an extension until mid-2016, but ministers went even further.
The announcement was made as the government set out how rail franchises will work in the wake of a major review after the West Coast bidding process had to be abandoned last year.
A spokesman for Virgin said: “We are pleased the government has extended the franchise until 2017.
“It will give us the opportunity to continue with further improvements for customers who use the West Coast main line.
“We now need to sit down with government to understand what the new contract will look like.”
Last year the government announced a new 13-year franchise for the West Coast had been awarded to transport company FirstGroup which won a bidding war with Virgin Trains.
But the bidding had to be scrapped after serious mistakes by Department for Transport civil servants in the bidding process.
This led to two independent reviews - one on the West Coast fiasco and the other on the whole franchise process.
Today’s announcement is the direct result of the reviews and effectively sets the franchise process back on track.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This programme is a major step in delivering tangible improvements to services, providing long-term certainty to the market and supporting our huge programme of rail investment.

“Above all, in future franchise competitions we are placing passengers in the driving seat by ensuring that their views and satisfaction levels are taken into account when deciding which companies run our railway services.
“Franchising has been a force for good in the story of Britain’s railways, transforming an industry that was in decline into one that today carries record numbers of passengers.”
The Transport Secretary also announced the immediate start of the competition for the East Coast franchise, currently directly operated, with the expectation the new franchisee will carry its first passengers by February 2015.

Read more: Liverpool Echo http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2013/03/26/100252-33061702/#ixzz2OdYprQUJ

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