Virgin wins rail services rights, promises to link Blackpool with London

By Lancashire Business View

19 Jun 2014

Blackpool will soon have a direct route to London as Virgin has finally secured the rights to the West Coast Main Line, promising extra seats and improved services as part of the deal.

The new agreement for rail services on the West Coast Main Line promises to deliver thousands more seats, free wifi and pave the way for new journeys on the route, announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

The announcement follows months of public wrangling in 2012 and 2013, where the contract was initially offered to FirstGroup, then a proposed link to Blackpool was later shelved.

The direct award contract will run for two years and nine months and see the train operator continue to provide vital passenger journeys between London, Scotland and Wales.

The new contract will bring £35m worth of passenger benefits, including:

21 first-class carriages converted to standard class, delivering 5,500 extra standard seats per day across the network; free wifi at stations and improved coverage across the entire fleet; more than £20m invested to modernise and enhance stations, including improving waiting rooms, seats and shelters; £2.5m to improve the interiors of the Pendolino train fleet, as well as £2.75m spent on improving catering facilities; improved station cleanliness and accessibility; new targets for passenger satisfaction, train punctuality and cleanliness; and plans developed to increase car parking at Carlisle, Lancaster and Stafford. In addition, Virgin will now start work to secure new direct services between Shrewsbury, Blackpool and London from December, boosting connections for passengers and local businesses.

The deal will also create jobs, including apprenticeships and traineeships, underlining the government’s commitment to get more people into work.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This deal will provide thousands more seats and better journeys for the tens of thousands of passengers who use these services every day. The West Coast provides a vital artery between London and Scotland and it is crucial we do everything we can to improve services on this much-used route.

“This is further proof of our commitment to get the best deal for passengers and taxpayers with Virgin set to pay more than £430m to run the franchise. It’s all part of our long-term economic plan to drive forward our economy and provide better services now and great services with HS2.”

The deal covers a strategically important route in the UK providing commuter, leisure and business journeys between London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Strathclyde and Lothian for more than 30 million passengers annually.

The company has also committed to working with Network Rail, communities and stakeholders to look at how further improvements in journey times can be made from London to Scotland. This includes work to remodel Carstairs junction – a significant bottleneck on the network.

Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains executive co-chairman, said: “We’re delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the DfT. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system."

The company will now submit plans to the Office of Rail Regulation to extend current services from London. Under the plans Blackpool North would have one service to London in each direction Monday to Friday.

As part of the deal the company has committed to employing at least 30 apprentices, 18 trainees, four Network Rail Track and Train graduate placements, 12 Virgin Red Track scheme participants and 12 ex-offenders through the St Giles Trust. The new agreement will run until April 2017 when a new competed long-term franchise is expected to commence. The contract is the sixth direct award to be delivered by the Department following the relaunch of its franchising schedule in March last year. Industry expert Richard Brown in his independent report into franchising had advised staggering competitions to make them more deliverable. The government announced a programme of direct awards to deliver this.

Latest news

1

Blackpool approves plans for pair of apartment complexes New South Promenade Apartments Visuals

Blackpool approves plans for pair of apartment complexes

12 Apr 2024

2

Distinguished engineer takes senior role at Lancaster University Rebecca Lingwood

Distinguished engineer takes senior role at Lancaster University

11 Apr 2024

3

International building supplies firm to open new plant in Preston New Kerakoll Group Premises Visuals

International building supplies firm to open new plant in Preston

11 Apr 2024

4

Case Study: RfM Transform and Belgravia Décor HR Trends from RfM Transform (13).png.png

Case Study: RfM Transform and Belgravia Décor

12 Apr 2024

5

Lustalux helps with the £21m refurbishment of Printworks Manchester pw-sign-manchester.jpg.jpg

Lustalux helps with the £21m refurbishment of Printworks Manchester

12 Apr 2024

Hwc 2024 Email Signature 980x120
Background image for hub sign up block

LBV Hub

Reach 50,000 members of the Lancashire business community

Post your news
Post your events
Post your offers
Company profile
Social reach
Magazine coverage
Sign-up
Events
Health and Wellbeing Conference 2024
Hwc 2024 Social Media 1200px 1
Networking
23 Apr 2024

Health and Wellbeing Conference 2024

Crow Wood Hotel, Burnley , BB12 0RT

08:30 - 13:00

Business Networking in Preston- BNI Brunch
EVENT LISTING SIZING Brunch .png.png
LBV Hub Networking
12 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Preston- BNI Brunch

Samlesbury Preston Hotel, Preston New Road, Preston, PR5 0UL

09:30 - 11:00

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Infinity
EVENT LISTING BNI Infinity.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
12 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Infinity

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:30 - 08:30

Help to Grow Management Course
HTG2.png.png
LBV Hub Seminars
15 Apr 2024 - 17 Jul 2024

Help to Grow Management Course

Preston Campus , Preston , PR1 2HE

09:30 - 14:00

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour
EVENT LISTING SIZING Endeavour.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
16 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour

Oak Royal, Bury Lane, Chorley, PR6 8SW

06:30 - 08:30

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista
EVENT LISTING SIZING Vista.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
16 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus
EVENT LISTING SIZING Zeus.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
17 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus

The Mill House, Corn Mill Yard, Accrington, BB5 5HX

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Lancaster - Eden Business Network
EVENT LISTING Eden Business Network.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
17 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Lancaster - Eden Business Network

The Borough, 3 Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PP

18:30 - 20:30

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond
EVENT LISTING BNI Diamond.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
17 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond

The Marriot Hotel, Garstang Road, Broughton, PR3 5JB

07:15 - 09:00

Cyber Secure 360: Safeguarding Your Digital World
CyberSecure 360 LBV-32.png.png
LBV Hub Seminars
18 Apr 2024 - 18 Apr 2024

Cyber Secure 360: Safeguarding Your Digital World

Accrington Stanley, Accrington, BB5 5BX

08:30 - 12:00

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos
EVENT LISTING BNI Kudos.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
18 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos

Prairie Sports Village, Windemere Avenue, Burnley, BB10 2FU

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Preston- BNI Brunch
EVENT LISTING SIZING Brunch .png.png
LBV Hub Networking
19 Apr 2024

Business Networking in Preston- BNI Brunch

Samlesbury Preston Hotel, Preston New Road, Preston, PR5 0UL

09:30 - 11:00

Advertise with us

Reaching 50,000 members, our print, digital and event platforms offer a fantastic way to raise your business profile and help you grow.

Find out more Lbv115 Online Graphic
Subscribe now

Weekly news bulletin