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Virgin Trains awarded West Coast contract
10:33am Thursday 19th June 2014 in News
VIRGIN Trains has signed up to run the West Coast Mainline until March 2017.
The train company and the Department for Transport signed the new deal on Thursday which will see more standard class seats and free wifi.
It comes after a botched attempt by the Government to award the rail franchise back in 2012.
The new contract comes into force from June 22 and will see 21 trains have one of their first class carriages converted to standard class creating 5,500 seats per day.
All trains will be equipped with wifi, which Network Rail intends to support by providing track-side infrastructure.
This would be the first major intercity deployment of 4G technology on the UK rail network and provide free wifi to all customers.
The contract means the Department for Transport will receive a guaranteed payment of more than £430 million over the length of the contract, as well as up to 100 per cent of the additional returns generated by Virgin Trains.
Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains executive co-chairman, said: “We’re delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the Department for Transport. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system.
“This deal is great news for passengers and taxpayers, with significant benefits for our customers as well as a big increase in the money we pay to government. We know wifi is high on our customers’ priorities and we’re delighted that we’re going to be able to offer them free and super-fast wifi.”
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