15 APRIL 2019
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A government decision announced last week to disqualify the Stagecoach company from bidding for new rail franchises could see the end of Virgin Trains in the UK within a few months.
The ban, which centres on a row over pension provision, means Stagecoach cannot apply for three new franchises including the West Coast main line. Virgin, which has run the London – Glasgow service for more than 20 years, is Stagecoach’s joint-venture partner.
Stagecoach said it had been told its bids “were not compliant” with the government’s terms. Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson responded on the company website saying the decision meant “Virgin Trains could be gone from the UK in November”.
A company statement added: "We’re very disappointed by the DfT’s unexpected decision. We’ve led the industry for more than 20 years with our ground-breaking innovations, such as automatic delay repay and award-winning customer service.”
The statement also attempted to allay immediate worries about the West Coast services, adding: "We’re studying the DfT’s decision carefully to understand why they’ve taken this action and would like to reassure all our customers that they can still book and travel as normal.”
(See also COMMENT in this issue).
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Peter Kenworthy, UK
It will be a pity if this means the end of the Stagecoach Megabus+ product which offers a product utilising off peak train services of East Midlands trains from St Pancras to East Midlands Parkway connecting to a number of Megabus coaches serving Yorkshire and Humberside.