... About fucking time!!
'Virgin trains will disappear from Britain’s railways within 12 months after the government blocked the operator from renewing its west coast franchise.
The Department for Transport has barred Stagecoach, the joint venture partner for Virgin, from bidding for three new rail franchises amid a furious row about pensions.
Virgin trains have run on the west coast franchise for more than 20 years, but the joint venture with Stagecoach will cease to exist on 31 March 2020, when a new franchisee will take over. Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson, owns 51% of the company, while Stagecoach owns 49%.
A new franchise for the west coast line, which runs from London to Glasgow, is due to be awarded in June, but Stagecoach said it had been informed that its bids were not compliant with the government’s terms.
Last year Virgin started a separate rail business in the US, but the government’s decision means it will no longer have a presence on British railways unless it wins another franchise in the future. A spokeswoman for Virgin declined to comment on whether the company had plans to bid for future franchises.
In a statement, Virgin Trains said: “We’re very disappointed by the DfT’s unexpected decision. We’re studying the DfT’s decision carefully to understand why they’ve taken this action and would like to reassure all our customers that they can still book and travel as normal.”
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has also been forced to further delay the award of its south eastern franchise at least until November, in a written ministerial statement on Wednesday, in another blow to his department.
The announcement represented a blow to Stagecoach, whose rail business in the UK faces uncertainty. The FTSE 250-listed group will be removed from the east Midlands rail franchise, which it has run since 2007. The Dutch state-owned operator Abellio will take over in August for the next eight years. Its bid for the south eastern franchise was also blocked, and the government was last year forced to step in to run the East Coast franchise.'
Read more: Virgin trains will vanish from UK after ban on Stagecoach's bids