VIRGIN Trains will continue to run trains from Warrington to London and Scotland until 2014.
The West Coast Mainline route was set to be without a train service from last Sunday when the train company’s franchise deal was due up.
But the new provider of the route’s service has not been put in place after the Government admitted there were contract flaws after initially handing the line to First Trains.
Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin said in October there were significant technical flaws in the bidding process because of mistakes made by Department for Transport staff.
The process of tendering for a new supplier will take some time so Virgin Trains has agreed to keep the line running up to November 2014.
If a new company is in place to take over the route before then the contract can be terminated.
Tony Collins, CEO of Virgin Rail Group, said: “I’m delighted that we have an agreement with the Department for Transport that gives us the chance to continue providing high quality services to our customers. We have had great support from staff and customers in recent months and we will repay that loyalty with even better service.
“We will not be sitting back in the coming months, but are keen to introduce more improvements to the service, which is already the most popular long-distance service in the country.”
But union bosses have criticised the Government for the rail fiasco and they have called for renationalisation.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Anyone who thought the unprecedented fiasco on the West Coast Main Line franchise was over needs to think again.
“Although the extension announcement has been made this morning it only exposes the reckless high wire act that has taken the negotiations between Virgin and the Department for Transport right to the very brink of the contracts’ termination this weekend.”