LONDON, May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin Rail Group (VRG) confirms that it is in discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding an extension to the current West Coast rail franchise agreement.
VRG is a joint venture between Virgin Group and Stagecoach and operates the West Coast franchise through its Virgin Trains brand and the franchise was due to expire in March 2012.
The discussions, which follow an approach from the DfT, involve the terms of a franchise extension until early December 2012. VRG is also in discussions with the DfT about its plans for new Pendolino carriages that have been programmed to be available to go into passenger service by December 2012.
As previously announced, VRG has pre-qualified to bid for the new Intercity West Coast rail franchise. The Government confirmed today that the new franchise will start on 9 December 2012 and run until 31 March 2026, with an option to be extended by up to 20 months.
Virgin Rail Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Collins said: "We are pleased to have been invited by the Government to discuss an extension to the current West Coast franchise. This would mean we would continue to run services for passengers for an additional eight months at an exciting and challenging time for the country with the Olympic Games next year.
"We look forward to continuing our discussions with the Department for Transport with a view to concluding a commercial agreement that will be in the interests of passengers and deliver value for money to taxpayers."
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Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group. We have operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997; discussions are currently taking place with regard to the extension of the current franchise through to 8 December 2012 and we have been invited to bid for the new franchise.
Virgin Rail Group is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach.
Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous industry awards. In 2010 the company has been named Best Rail Operator of the Year at the Travel Globe Awards (voted for by readers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard), and Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which we also won in 2009).. In 2009 we were also voted Best UK Domestic Train Service by Business Traveller magazine for the second year running. Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011.
SOURCE Virgin Rail Group