First Trenitalia to take over West Coast Main Line rail services from Virgin Trains – but there’s no change yet for passengers

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FIRST Trenitalia will taken over train services on the West Coast Main Line from Virgin Trains it’s been revealed today.

The switch will take place on December 8, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.

Virgin train
Getty Images – Getty

First Trenitalia will takeover the West Coast Main Line[/caption]

Until then, passengers should still book and travel as normal, according to Virgin Trains.

First Trenitalia says the move will provide passengers with new trains, more seats, simplified fares and more frequent services.

It was also awarded the West Coast Partnership (WCP) contract, which also includes responsibility for running the first high speed 2 (HS2) trains from 2026.

But the DfT says the government will “shortly launch a review” into the new high-speed railway, which was widely expected after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.”

A spokesman for Virgin Trains, which has run trains on the West Coast route since 1997, said: “Virgin Trains has led the industry for 22 years, delivering faster journeys to

more destinations, harnessing new technology and always putting the customer first.

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“We’ll now work with First Trenitalia to ensure a seamless handover for customers, who should still book and travel as normal.”

But Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, says the move is a “gamble”.

He said: “The announcement this morning that First Trenitalia is being shunted on to the West Coast Main Line to replace Virgin/Stagecoach in the midst of the rail staff pension row is just another political fix by a government whose privatised franchise model is collapsing around their ears.

“Instead of following the popular public sector route, the Tories are taking yet another gamble on the crucial West Coast lines with one of the dwindling number of private operator consortia left in the game, in a move that RMT believes is doomed to failure and sure to result in yet more rail chaos.

“RMT will take whatever action is required to protect out members’ pay, jobs, working conditions and pensions on these vital inter-city routes.”

More to follow…

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