'The Virgin East Coast train line could be renationalised in a matter of months, the Transport Secretary announced yesterday.
Chris Grayling revealed last month that the franchise – run jointly by Stagecoach and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – was running out of money and likely to break up before 2020.
But yesterday he told MPs that the situation had become ‘much more urgent’ after the operators breached a ‘key financial covenant’.
He said: ‘It is now clear that this franchise will only be able to continue in its current form for a matter of a very small number of months and no more.’
Delivering an urgent statement in the Commons, he said he has already asked officials to conduct a ‘full appraisal’ of the options to ensure the trains continue running as normal.
Stagecoach – which owns 90 per cent of the franchise – and Virgin could be awarded it on a short-term ‘not for profit’ basis, or it will be ‘directly operated’ by the Department of Transport.'
Read more: Virgin’s East Coast line could be nationalised in months as Transport Secretary reveals it’s running out of money and likely to break up before 2020
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