Virgin loses West Coast train franchiseVirgin topped Which? rail survey but lost contract
15 August 2012
The train company rated highest overall by Which? survey loses its contract
Virgin Trains has lost its franchise to run trains on Britain's west coast mainline.
The company came top of the Which? train customer survey with a 64% customer score.
Virgin will be replaced by First Group, which scored between 43% and 54% in the Which? train survey. First Group currently has five other train franchises - although many of these are also coming up to being re-let.
West Coast mainline promises
The new franchise will run from 9th December 2012 until 2026, although it could be extended until 2028.
The route runs links through major cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and London.
Various improvements are promised:
- Extra trains from December 2016 will increase capacity on the routes;
- A new service from London to Blackpool from 2013;
- A new service from London to Telford, Shrewsbury and Bolton from 2016;
- Standard class Anytime fares will be cut by an average of 15% over the first two years, although these will remain very expensive tickets.
Staying on passenger track
Which? trains expert Richard Dilks says: 'These improvements are welcome, particularly for those who haven't had a direct train service to London for years.
But the new operator must maintain or improve the success our survey showed Virgin had on the route. As fares generally continue to rise above inflation, passengers will expect more in return.'