December 06, 2012

Virgin Trains to continue to operate West Coast services

Written by 
  • Print
  • Email

BRITAIN's Department for Transport (DfT) has signed a 23-month management contract with Virgin Trains to operate long-distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

The existing franchise was due to expire on December 8, and should have been replaced by a new franchise run by First Group. But the deal was cancelled after flaws were discovered in the DfT's franchising process.

Under the new interim contract, the DfT will bear the financial risk and Virgin will receive a 1% margin on revenue for running the service. There is provision for the terms of contract to be altered so that Virgin would take on some of the financial risk. Under the deal, Virgin will increase the frequency of London – Glasgow services to hourly.

The DfT has dropped its proposal to follow this contract with a two-year franchise to allow time for a new franchising system to be introduced. Instead, the DfT plans to let a new long-term franchise to replace the management contract with Virgin, and there is provision in the contract for the new franchise to start before November 9 2014 if it proves possible to speed up the award of the franchise.

Get the latest rail news

IRJ Rail Brief newsletter covers global railway news