FirstGroup win West Coast Main Line franchise
Published by Simon Gwynn on Fri 17 Aug 12 @ 9:39
Earlier this week (August 15) came the announcement that FirstGroup outbid Virgin to take over operations of the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow and London.
The firm, which runs ScotRail placed a successful bid of £5.5bn, £700m higher than Virgin's £4.8bn offer
This is a very important step for a line which carries around 31m passengers per year, vital for Glasgow's connectivity to the rest of the UK and its transport hubs.
FirstGroup stressed that benefits for Scotland will include faster journey times between Glasgow and London as well as the introduction of an hourly Glasgow - London service, as the end of 2016, at a journey time of four hours and 15 minutes.
The transport provider also revealed that there will be a new First Class lounge at Glasgow Central, where it will also introduce automatic ticket gates. And the train operator said that the current fleet will be refurbished at a cost of more than £50m.
Speaking about the decision, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive said"
"We welcome FirstGroup and wish them well in the delivery of the West Coast Main Line service, which is a vital one for Glasgow, but are also concerned at the consequences for the existing 190 staff that Virgin has in the city.
"We will be expecting the new operator to build on the legacy of the positive work done by Virgin - in particular the re-introduction of an hourly Glasgow to London service and the growth in capacity on the line, with the use of 11-carriage Pendolinos.
"In addition, we are keen that FirstGroup maintains the commitment to further increasing seats, continuously improving service standards and continuing the work that has been done by the previous operator to promote Glasgow through the City Marketing Bureau.
"We will continue the campaign pushing for HS2 to reach Scotland, and this franchise takes us through to the earliest introduction date for that."