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Virgin loses West Coast franchise

Train operator Virgin Rail has lost its franchise for the West Coast Main Line to rival First Group, the government announced today.

First Group will from December take over the new 15 year, £5.5bn First West Coast franchise that will operate train services between London to Glasgow, connecting cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

The winning bid beat off competition from Dutch train operator Abellio, French firm Keolis/SNCF as well as current incumbent Virgin Trains. As part of the deal First West Coast will introduce 11 new six car electric trains from December 2016 and spend a minimum of £22M on a station investment programme.

Virgin Trains has operated the West Coast Main Line route since 1997.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Have any of those who made this decision travelled on Virgin or First in the last few years? Virgin are clean and on time. First trains are dirty, frequently cancelled and usually late.

    My comparison is between Virgin from Euston and First Capital Connect from Brighton to St Pancras International.

    Brian Corbett

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