Virgin is yet to sign deal for trains on West Coast rail line

An extension to Virgin Trains’ franchise to run the busiest rail line in the country has still not been signed, just under a month before its existing deal runs out.

West Coast main line franchise

Virgin, owned by Sir Richard Branson, was set to be given up to two more years to run the West Coast mainline while the Government recreates the tender for the multi-billion pound franchise. An earlier decision to hand the line to Virgin’s rival FirstGroup was torn up because mistakes were found in the calculations of civil servants.

Virgin today said it was still in discussions with the Department for Transport and was confident that a deal would be signed in time. The existing franchise ends on December 9.

Rail union the RMT today called on the Government not to rule out re-nationalising the line.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said allowing Virgin to continue was not the answer, adding: “As a result of sheer Government incompetence, right-wing ideology and desperation Richard Branson has muscled his way in to a monopoly contractor position on Britain’s biggest rail route.

“Virgin find themselves pulling the handle on a fruit machine that’s been fixed on jackpot at every spin of the reels. It’s no wonder they don’t want to leave the arcade.”

Mistakes in the original Government’s franchise process led to it refunding £40 million to bidders. Virgin is likely to run the line for at least nine months until a new process can be started.

Virgin Trains spokesman Richard Stanton said: “We are in positive and constructive discussions with the DfT and remain committed to continuing with our West Coast operations beyond December 9. We’ve been overwhelmed by the level of support we have received from public and our staff.”

Comments for: "Virgin is yet to sign deal for trains on West Coast rail line "

bobwolf101

I see the dinosaur of the union has voiced his opinion which is not the voice of rail users. The man must really wake up and listen to passengers - because passengers want Virgin to run the WCML!!!!

Keith Trevor

If a union oligarch has spoken in this way, it is an indicator that the WCML should be run by Virgin. We cannot allow Unions to yet again, become the tail that wags the dog in the UK.

David Gibson

What a poisoned and biased view to say that because a Union leader says something it must be wrong. No wonder the country is in the mess it is, and not caused by the trade unions or anyone remotely connected with them. Bob Crow is right, and not the only one to say it, that the railways have been brought to their knees by privatisation and the fragmentation it has caused.

The hard fact is that both as individuals and as a country, we can no longer afford to keep the railways in private hands, it is far too costly and does not serve either the travelling public or the taxpayer. Try going to the continent and seeing how railways are, and should be run. Privatisation of transport and utilities in this country has been a huge mistake and the costs to all but a few have been crippling.

I am not connected with either the railway industry, the trade union or the Labour party, but I do think for myself and seek information from all sources before forming a view. Try it sometime.