Virgin Trains lose West Coast rail franchise to First Group

Virgin Trains has lost its bid to continue running rail services on the West Coast Main Line from London to Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow and will be replaced by the UK’s largest rail operator, FirstGroup.

FirstGroup had been widely speculated to be the front runner to win the franchise after offering the highest bid.

In a statement, FirstGroup said it would "offer substantial improvements in the quality and frequency of services".

Rail unions and rail campaigners however backed Virgin Trains and said they thought that the FirstGroup offer was unsustainable, warning that jobs would be lost, fares would rise and catering services would be cut back.

FirstGroup already operates a number of rail routes including Great Western and ScotRail but provoke controversy when it ‘handed back’ the Great Western franchise early to save paying millions of pounds to the Government.

FirstGroup, under the name First West Coast Limited, will take over the West Coast franchise from 9 December 2012 and is due to to operate the service until 2026.

The company says it will introduce 11 new 125mph six-car electric trains on the Birmingham to Glasgow route and provide more direct services between destinations.

FirstGroup’s chief executive Tim O’Toole said it was a good deal for the company and the public.

"Our bid also delivers value for taxpayers by returning premiums to the government underpinned by sustainable growth in passenger numbers and revenues from the utilisation of significant available capacity," he said.

First West Coast says it will pay £5.5bn at net present value to the treasury over the franchise term. This is believed to have been more than £1bn higher than the amount offered by Virgin Rail which is 49%-owned by another transport company Stagecoach.

In a statement, Stagecoach said the reason it had failed to secure the new franchise was because FirstGroup had contracted to pay "significantly higher premium payments" to the Department for Transport.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Rail has operated the West Coast franchise since 1997 after the privatisation of Britain’s railways.

Severe problems at Cannon Street Tuesday 31st July 2012

Commuters looking to avoid travel via London Bridge this evening due to the number of spectators returning from the Olympic Equestrian events at Greenwich should also avoid Cannon Street this evening as a signalling problem is causing severe disruption.

As a result of the signalling problem, South Eastern journeys are being delayed by up to 50 minutes to and from London Cannon Street. These delays will continue until further notice.

Southeastern services may be diverted to start from or terminate at London Charing Cross or London Victoria.

Passengers should be aware that Greenwich, London Bridge and London Cannon Street are all extremely busy and should avoid these stations where possible.

Ticket Acceptance / Olympic Travel Alternatives

Passengers should use alternative stations such as London Victoria, London Blackfriars or London Charing Cross

Passengers at Greenwich wishing to travel home from the Olympics are advised to use Docklands Light Railway services to Tower Gateway.

Docklands Light Railway are accepting passengers on all reasonable routes

Passengers may wish to use London Underground services to Embankment and then use trains from London Charing Cross

Passengers travelling from the Olympic Park should use London Underground Central Line, District Line or Greater Anglia services

Southeastern season ticket holders may use Javelin services between London St Pancras International and Ashford International

Broken down train causing 90 minute delays between Havant and Portsmouth Harbour

A broken down train is causing disruption to South West Trains and Southern services near Havant.

As a result of this train breakdown, the following changes will apply until further notice:

There are delays of up to 90 minutes to services between Havant and Portsmouth Harbour / Fareham.

South West Trains services from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo are being diverted via Eastleigh. Buses have been requested to run between Havant and Guildford.

South West Trains passengers may use Southern services between Havant and Fareham.

Buses are running between Portsmouth Harbour and Havant.

There are currently no trains operating towards London between Havant and Haslemere/Guildford

London Bridge platforms 1-6 closed from 6-10pm Monday 30th July 2012

Due to the large number of passengers expected to be returning from Olympic events in Greenwich today, London Bridge platforms 1-6 will be open for set-down only between 6 and 10pm today, Monday 30th July 2012.

Passengers will be unable to join trains at London Bridge during this time, so if you normally travel via London Bridge in the evening you are recommended to look at alternative routes via Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Victoria.

Passengers are advised that all train services out of London are likely to be busier than normal this evening. Please give up your seat for a disabled or elderly person if you are more able to stand than they are. Our aim is to make your journey home as pleasant as possible for everyone.

If you are able to travel earlier than normal, you may find these trains to be less crowded.

No East Coast Services between Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed due to flooding

Following the exceptional thunderstorms which affected the area around Newcastle yesterday, there are no East Coast train services today (Friday 29th June 2012) between Newcastle and Edinburgh. It is hoped that services will resume tomorrow, Saturday 30th June.

Tickets dated either Thursday 28th June or Friday 29th June will be accepted on East Coast trains tomorrow.

There are no trains between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed. There are also no replacement buses. Passengers should use alternative routes between Newcastle and Scotland. The following changes apply until further notice:

East Coast

Trains will not run between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed. A shuttle train service is running between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh calling at Dunbar.

East Coast are advising passengers not to travel in this area.

There are no East Coast services today to / from Glasgow Central or Inverness (customers should use ScotRail services) or the replacement bus between Inverness and Edinburgh.

A normal service is operating between Leeds / Newcastle and London Kings Cross.

If passengers choose not to travel, they should contact East Coast for a full refund.

East Coast ticket holders may use the following alternative services:

ScotRail, First TransPennine Express and CrossCountry services on all reasonable routes
Virgin Trains services between London Euston and Scotland
Northern Rail services between Newcastle and Carlisle

CrossCountry

CrossCountry services are also being affected by this disruption. A full CrossCountry service will operate south of Newcastle. There are no trains between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The 08:20 CrossCountry service from Aberdeen to Penzance will terminate at Edinburgh.

Passengers who choose not to travel between North East England and Scotland may use their tickets tomorrow, Saturday 30 June.

CrossCountry ticket holders may use:

East Coast and First TransPennine Express services on all reasonable routes
Virgin Trains services between Birmingham and Scotland
Northern Rail services between Newcastle and Carlisle
East Midlands Trains between Sheffield and Manchester

Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express services are not being affected by this disruption.

Delays to Southeastern services due to snow and ice

Poor weather conditions, including overnight ice and snow are causing disruption to Southeastern services. The disruption is expected to continue throughout Sunday 5 February.

The following alterations will apply:

Southeastern trains through Ashford International may be delayed by up to 40 minutes
Southeastern trains between Sittingbourne and Faversham may be delayed by up to 45 minutes
Due to poor road conditions, replacement buses because of engineering work are currently unable to run between Ramsgate and Minster / Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Also the planned buses between Robertsbridge and Hastings and are currently unable to stop at Robertsbridge.

Ticket Acceptance

Southeastern ticket holders are being accepted on Southeastern High Speed and London Underground services on any reasonable routes.

Delays to Southern services due to snow and ice

Due to snowfall overnight, services are currently disrupted across the Southern network on Sunday 5th February.

All Southern trains may be delayed across all routes by up to 30 minutes.

Southern are planning to run the full advertised timetable today, Sunday 5th February, but with the following alterations:

Services between London Victoria and Littlehampton / Portsmouth Harbour:

London Victoria to Littlehampton/Portsmouth Harbour services departing at 17 minutes past the hour, will not split at Worthing and will continue to Portsmouth. Passengers using these services to travel to West Worthing, Durrington-on-Sea, Goring-by-Sea and Angmering should change at Worthing. Passengers for Littlehampton should change at Barnham for a replacement bus service.

Passengers from Littlehampton should travel on replacement buses to Barnham to connect with a train to London Victoria. Passengers from Angmering, Goring-by-Sea, Durrington-on-Sea and West Worthing who require the London Victoria service should travel on Portsmouth Harbour to Brighton services and change at Worthing.

Replacement buses from Barnham to Littlehampton will depart on the hour, every hour between 10.00 and 23.00. Replacement buses from Littlehampton to Barnham will depart on the hour, every hour between 08.00 and 20.00.

Services between Horsham and Littlehampton:

The rail replacement buses between Horsham and Littlehampton are unable to call at Christ’s Hospital due to poor road conditions.

Services between Bexhill and Ashford:

Due to poor road conditions, the Bexhill to Ashford International rail replacement buses cannot run between Hastings and Ashford.

Ticket Acceptance

Passengers with Southern tickets are being accepted on Southeastern, South West Trains and First Capital Connect services on any reasonable routes.

Power supply problems at Seven Sister cause delays to Enfield Town, Cheshunt and Stansted Airport

Electrical supply problems are causing disruption to Greater Anglia services in the Seven Sisters area, today, Sunday 5th February

Because of this, the following alterations will apply until further notice:

Greater Anglia train services between Seven Sisters and Enfield Town / Cheshunt are currently suspended
Greater Anglia trains that normally run via Seven Sisters are being diverted via Tottenham Hale
Passengers can use Greater Anglia tickets on London Buses, London Underground and First Capital Connect services on any reasonable routes

A signalling problem is causing disruption in the Clapton area.

Because of this, the following alterations will apply until further notice:

* Trains between London Liverpool Street and Chingford are currently suspended
* Trains between London Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale may be delayed by up to 30 minutes

No trains between Portsmouth and Havant or Fareham until further notice

There is a gas leak in Tangier Road, Portsmouth which has closed Fratton station and is preventing any movement of trains in the Fratton area this evening, Friday 3rd February 2012.

Because of this, trains are currently unable to run between Fareham / Havant and Portsmouth Harbour. There is no current estimate for when a normal service will resume.

There is no replacement transport available at this time.

Ticket Acceptance

Passengers with valid South West Trains, Southern or First Great Western tickets are being accepted on local Stagecoach buses in the Portsmouth and Fratton area.

No services from/to London Euston after freight train derailment at Bletchley on WCML

A freight train has derailed on the West Coast Main Line near Bletchley this morning – Friday 3rd February. Major disruption to Virgin Trains and London Midland services in particular, will continue until further notice.

There are NO London Midland and Virgin trains services between Milton Keynes Central and London Euston this morning.

All passengers are advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary as alternative services are likely to be overcrowded

Virgin Trains

No trains will operate between Milton Keynes Central and London Euston
Two trains per hour will run between Manchester Piccadilly and Milton Keynes Central
One train per hour will run between Wolverhampton and Rugby
One train per hour will run between Glasgow Central / Preston and Milton Keynes Central, calling additionally at Crewe.
One train per hour will run between Liverpool Lime Street and Milton Keynes Central
Trains between Holyhead / Chester will run between Holyhead / Chester and Crewe.
A special bus service is operating between Milton Keynes Central and Luton Airport Parkway for trains between Luton Airport Parkway and London St Pancras International

For more details, please visit the Virgin Trains website

London Midland

All London Midland services are starting from and terminating at Northampton.

A shuttle train service will run between between Watford Junction and Tring and between Northampton and Milton Keynes Central:

London Midland trains depart Watford Junction at 23 minutes and 53 minutes past each hour
London Midland trains depart Tring at 4 minutes and 34 minutes past each hour
London Midland trains depart Northampton at 25 minutes and 55 minutes past each hour
London Midland trains depart Milton Keynes Central at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past each hour

Southern

Trains will start / terminate at Watford Junction, so will not run between Milton Keynes Central and Watford Junction.

Ticket Acceptance

Passengers with tickets for travel between London Euston and Milton Keynes today may use:

East Midlands Trains between Derby / Leicester / Luton Airport Parkway and London St Pancras International.
Chiltern Railways services between Birmingham and London Marylebone.
Northern Rail services between Stockport and Sheffield.
CrossCountry services between Stafford and Reading, Tamworth and Derby, Nuneaton and Leicester
First Great Western services between Reading and London Paddington.
East Coast services on any reasonable route
First Capital Connect services on any reasonable route.
London Overground services on any reasonable route.
Grand Central services between Doncaster / York and London Kings Cross.
London Underground services on any reasonable route
First TransPennine Express services on any reasonable route.

For more details, please visit the Virgin Trains website

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