FirstGroup now in charge of the West Coast Mainline
We’ve got trains on the brain this week. Yesterday the powers that be told us that fares will be going up in January, but today, FirstGroup said that they’ll be REDUCING fares, after they snatched the West Coast Mainline franchise from poor old Virgin Rail, bringing to and 15 years of Branson’s trains rattling up and down the left hand side of the nation.
The country’s largest rail group already run Great Western and ScotRail and are probably drunk on power this morning. They’ll take over the franchise on 9th December and assuming they don’t go bust or something, it’ll be theirs until 2026.
FirstGroup are already talking the big talk, promising 11 new 125-mph six-car electric trains on the route between Birmingham and Glasgow and provide more direct services across their new ‘patch’. There’ll also be 12,000 extra seats per day by 2016 apparently.
Virgin seemingly missed out from offering to pay back less to the government throughout the duration of the franchise, with a Sir Richard Virgin huffily saying: “We did not want to risk letting everybody down with almost certain bankruptcy at some time during the franchise, as happened to GNER and National Express who overbid on the East Coast mainline.” Oooh, get HIM.
Meanwhile, Sir Brian Souter, the chief executive of Virgin's franchise partner Stagecoach, said: “I am bitterly disappointed that Virgin Rail has been unsuccessful in its bid. After 15 years, it is difficult to imagine a West Coast rail service without the Virgin brand.”
No. No it isn’t.