20 DECEMBER 2010

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Article from BTNews 20 DECEMBER 2010

Rail franchise up for grabs

Virgin Rail Group has confirmed that it intends to bid for the West Coast franchise following a written statement to Parliament by Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary.  Mr Hammond told MPs that the next franchise would run for 14 years, from 2012 until the planned opening of High Speed 2 (HS2).  Virgin has been strongly campaigning for an extended contract.

Welcoming the offer Tony Collins, Virgin CEO, said: "Longer franchises lead to more investment, innovation and better services for customers.  We are pleased the Transport Secretary has taken the longer-term view which will benefit customers.

Virgin is keen to point out that it has doubled the number of customers in the last six years – to 28m.

"We intend to submit a strong and deliverable bid to retain the franchise and continue the investment, innovation and customer service that have given us record customer satisfaction scores,” he said.

Virgin Rail Group is owned 51% by Virgin Group and 49% by Stagecoach. www.virgintrains.co.uk

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