Latest Rail News

22.08.12

78,000 signatures calling for Virgin to run WCML

An e-petition calling for Virgin to keep the West Coast Main Line franchise has received over 78,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

Virgin lost its bid last week, when FirstGroup was awarded the contract. The franchise will start on 9 December and run until 2026. Virgin has run the franchise for the last 15 years.

The petition was started by Ross McKillop, and reads: “The West Coast Mainline’s current value is thanks to millions of pounds of investment and commitment from Virgin Trains – they’re not perfect, none are – but they have delivered a reliable service for 15 years and turned the line around.”

The signatories call for the government to “seek public opinion in these franchise bids”.

“The Government should look at more than the highest bidder – look what happened with G4S at London 2012.”

If the petition receives over 100,000 signatures, MPs could decide to debate the issue in Parliament.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Rail, voiced his support for the scheme, but reiterated that it had been started by a member of the public, not Virgin itself.

In a blog on the Virgin website, he wrote: “The final decision has not been signed off and we want as much support as possible to force the Government to reassess this ill-judged decision.”

A spokesperson for FirstGroup said: “As a result of our plans, customers travelling with us will use faster brand new trains with more seats, serving more destinations than the current service. There will be improved wi-fi, better catering, refurbished stations and importantly we'll be cutting standard anytime fares by 15% on average.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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