Virgin given go-ahead to run the West Coast main line

06:21 06 December 2012

Virgin is expected to be given the go-ahead to continue with the service. File picture: Martin Keene/PA Wire

Virgin is expected to be given the go-ahead to continue with the service. File picture: Martin Keene/PA Wire

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains will carry on running services on the West Coast main line for a further 23 months, it was announced this morning.

The DfT was found to have made mistakes in the bidding process. File picture: Philip Toscano/PA WireThe DfT was found to have made mistakes in the bidding process. File picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The company had been set to lose the West Coast franchise it has operated since 1997.

But the Government scrapped the bidding after Department for Transport (DfT) faults were found with the bidding process.

Today’s temporary deal, announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, will see Virgin carry on with the London to Scotland route until November 9, 2014, after which the West Coast line will be let under a long-term franchise.

Mr McLoughlin said: “We are determined to ensure not only that passengers continue to experience the same levels of service they have in the past, but that services improve.

“There will be a new hourly service linking Glasgow and London and we will also work with Virgin Trains to explore other service improvements.”

Virgin has run the line since 1997, but in August the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that a new 13-year West Coast franchise had been awarded to rival transport company FirstGroup.

It was only after Sir Richard, who had branded the bidding process “insane”, mounted a legal challenge to the decision that Mr McLoughlin scrapped the bidding process, saying there had been mistakes by the DfT.

Three DfT officials were suspended and negotiations were started with a view to getting Virgin to run the line for between nine and 13 months before a short interim franchise was offered followed by a longer one later.

When he pulled the plug on the West Coast franchise bidding, Mr McLoughlin appointed businessman Sam Laidlaw to produce an independent report into the fiasco.

After producing damning initial findings, which listed failings by the DfT, Mr Laidlaw presented his full report to the department last week.

But with one of the suspended department officials, Kate Mingay, mounting a legal challenge to her suspension, Mr McLoughlin announced that he was delaying the Laidlaw report publication until this week.

Mr Laidlaw had been due to appear before the House of Commons Transport Committee this week, but MPs will now hear his evidence on December 18.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London transportation news

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(Picture:: PA)

London Underground staff who were hailed as heroes on 7/7 for evacuating stations and tending to the wounded are being ‘forced’ to reapply for their jobs due to ‘dangerous’ job cuts, the RMT union has said.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Fabian Downie

A pervert who performed a solo sex act on six London buses, including one in Old Street, has been jailed.

Monday, June 29, 2015

South Kensington Tube station was evacuated and a police cordon put up this afternoon due to a ‘security alert’.

Monday, June 29, 2015
Wednesday's protest at Bank (Picture: London Cycling Campaign)

A candlelit vigil and ‘die-in’ protest will be held at Bank junction today in memory of cyclist Ying Tao who died after a road traffic collision there last Monday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Commissioner of Transport for London (TfL), Peter Hendy, is leaving his role to take over the helm of Network Rail.

Thursday, June 25, 2015
There are delays and cancellations at Paddington station

There are delays and cancellations to Paddington trains until this afternoon due to a signalling problem.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Read more
Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more
Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Read more

London Bloggers

Monday, April 13, 2015
Vintage fashion shopping is a joy in London (Photo by Graham French/BIPs/Getty Images)

In with the old, out with the new. This is the mantra of the best London vintage shoppers today, whose aesthetic of effortless chic is becoming more sought after.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Eating the right foods can significantly improve your mood

Think sweet treats make you feel better? ‘Comfort foods’ could be adding to your misery.