2012-08-16 — /travelprnews.com/ — The Department for Transport (DfT) has today, Wednesday 15 August, announced that following a bidding competition, Virgin Rail Group will not be operating the new Intercity West Coast franchise which starts on 9 December 2012 and runs through to 31 March 2026.
Tony Collins, Chief Executive of Virgin Rail Group, said today: “Naturally, we are all very disappointed by today’s announcement. We had submitted a strong, deliverable bid with emphasis on customer service which would have produced strong growth over the life of the franchise resulting in significant benefits for the taxpayer through generous premium payments to Government.
Our focus for the remaining four months of the current franchise will be to continue to offer a high quality service to our customers, who we would like to thank for their loyalty over the past 15 years, and hand over a healthy and efficient franchise to the new operator on 9 December.”
Virgin Rail Group took over the West Coast franchise in March 1997 and during the last 15 years has revolutionised rail travel on Britain’s flagship route.
• 91% customer satisfaction – consistently the best score of all the long-distance franchise operators
• More than doubled the number of customers from 13m to 31m
• Provided the most frequent long-distance service in Europe (London – Manchester and London – Birmingham, both every 20 minutes).
• Grown rail share of the Manchester-London rail-air market from 30% to 88%
• Introduced over 70 new tilting trains, at a cost of £1.5 billion.
• Delivered major payments to Government in recent years, with £160m paid to Treasury last year – one of the highest payments in rail
• Improved passenger facilities at stations, and added 5,000 car parking spaces.
• Slashed journey times – Manchester is now 2 hours 8 minutes from London, down from 2 hours 30 minutes.
• Launched the first internet rail ticket scheme and the first FastTicket machines.