Text us your news! Start your message Warrington News and send any photos or videos to 80360
Councillors add voice to West Coast line change worries
1:20pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in News
VIRGIN Rail Group has halted the Government from signing over Warrington Bank Quay Station and the West Coast Mainline to First Group.
The company launched a legal challenge against the Government’s decision to award the lucrative franchise - including the ownership of the town centre station - to First Group.
Former Rail Minister Theresa Villiers told MPs on Monday: “As a result of a legal challenge, which the Government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live."
Clr Axcell has put forward concerns that First Group will be unable to fulfil the promises of its tender document in his motion which also calls on sending thanks to Virgin Trains for its service over the past 15 years.
Warrington has benefitted from direct links to London on the West Coast Mainline but First Group have not yet revealed whether the non-stop service from the borough to the capital will be maintained.
First Group says it will increase the number of seats on routes, new services and station upgrades.
"Taken together, I believe that the commitments in First West Coast's bid represent significant improvements for passengers and will provide a good return for the taxpayer," added Ms Villiers.
But Virgin has questioned whether the company will match its own commitment of almost £800million investment .
Tony Collins, Virgin Rail Group’s CEO, said: “So far we have had an interesting wish-list from First Group but no firm commitments and our customers and MPs would expect to know more about these before any contract is signed by the Government. In any event, our firm commitments are more extensive than First Group’s wish-list. It is time for Tim O’Toole to come clean and reveal the true commitments.
“Taking all this into account, we find it impossible to believe that the First Group’s bid can deliver more improvements for customers, which is why the Government scored it as less deliverable than the Virgin bid.”
Both companies have also been called to address the Transport Select Committee next week in Parliament.