Operators get rail franchise extensions

The Government have announced extensions of Virgin Trains and Northern West Coast contracts.
The Government have announced extensions of Virgin Trains and Northern West Coast contracts.
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Rail operators Virgin Trains and Northern will be running services on our tracks for longer after the Government announced extensions of their contracts.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced that Virgin, which had already been given an extension until November 14 in the wake of the West Coast franchise debacle in November, will now run services on the line until April 2017.

Northern, which runs services from Blackpool to Liverpool, Manchester Victoria and York, will now continue to run the services until February 2016. It’s franchise had been due to expire in April 2014.

Patrick McLoughlin said: “The new programme will provide long-term certainty to the market and support the delivery of the government’s £9.4bn rail investment strategy for 2014 to 2019.

“The future competitions will also place passengers in the driving seat by ensuring their views and satisfaction levels are taken into account when deciding which companies run services.

“To roll out the programme and stagger future competitions, it is necessary to exercise a number of contractual extensions with current operators.

“During these discussions the department will look to negotiate further passenger benefits, which will ensure the best deal for tax payers.”

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: “We welcome the Government’s fresh plans to base the award of future franchises on measures such as improved customer service, innovation and planned investment.

“Virgin Trains has striven to deliver all of this over the last 16 years. We will continue to do this for the remainder of the West Coast franchise.”

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