Virgin Trains must beat three competitors to continue running London-Scotland rail route

Shortlist named for West Coast rail franchise

The Department for Transport has announced a shortlist of four companies to bid for a key London to Scotland rail route.

The company has operated the West Coast main line since 1997 but must now deliver a convincing bid against three top rail companies to continue running the route.

FirstGroup which already runs a number of franchises, Dutch company Nederlandse Spoorwegen and a joint venture between French rail company SNCF and French company Keolis SA have also been selected to bid for the franchise.

It will start on April 1 next year and run for 14 years, with an option to extend for a further year.

Meanwhile National Express will no longer operate the Greater Anglia franchise after it failed to make the DfT's three-strong shortlist. 

Nederlandse Spoorwegen and two transport companies already with experience of running franchises, the Go-Ahead Group and Stagecoach, are competing for the bid.

The Greater Anglia franchise will start on February 5 next year and will run for 17 months, with an option to extend by up to one year.

The DfT said this shorter franchise will allow time for reforms arising from the current McNulty review into rail value for money to be properly considered and built into the terms of a subsequent Greater Anglia franchise.

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