Investigation into West Coast franchise award… not enough competition?

Virgin trains at London Euston
Credit: Virgin Trains
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The Competition and Markets Authority has announced that it is investigating the award of the West Coast Mainline franchise.

On the 14th August 2019, First Trenitalia was announced as the new operators for the West Coast Mainline.

The franchise has been operated by Virgin Trains since 1997, but will come to an end on the 7th December 2019. Virgin will bow out after its partner, Stagecoach, was disqualified in 2019.

However, now the CMA is considering whether if the franchise is changed over to First Trenitalia that it will create a situation where there is not enough competition in the rail market, or within the market in the United Kingdom for goods or services.

The merger inquiry was launched on the 19th September 2019, with the invitation to comment running from today, 20th September 2019, until the 4th October 2019.

A decision for the phase 1 investigation will be announced on the 21st November 2019.

If you would like to comment on any issues surrounding the change in franchise, please send written representations to:

Carlo Monegato
Competition and Markets Authority
The Cabot
25 Cabot Square
London
E14 4QZ

What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below!

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Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.
  • The West Coast should run by the English/Scotland. It’s absolutely diabolical that we have to go to the Italians to run our Railway. It’s privatisation gone mad. If we leave the EU on 31-10-2019, I trust that the West Coast will come back to the UK?

    The sooner the railways are brought back into public ownership, the better. All profits made are leaving the UK, which should be reinvested back in the railways.

    Bring back BRITISH RAIL.

    • Well said, this england, their,s not enought investment always have to rely on joblogs to bail them out , we should welcome back british raill with open arms.

  • Virgin trains have always given me a great service from Crewe to Edinburgh. Clean ,comfortable, fast. I think it is very sad they were not allowed to bid. When I read on Twitter that cross country are running just 4 coaches instead of 8 from Glasgow to Penzance and you might have to stand. What sort of service is that?. Virgin always had long trains. Give Virgin the chance.

  • our rail network should be run by british firms for british jobs. Virgin trains have done a fantastic job so far. let them at least bid for the franchise.

  • Have used Virgin West Coast extensively to Liverpool and the Lake District for many years and they have never let me down – high quality for reasonable price! Cross country quality has declined alarmingly since Virgin lost that franchise! If it ain’t broke….

  • Its because our railways have been taken over by foreign rail companies with the increase of ticket prices. I do think that UK’s railways do need to be re-nationalised.

    #BRINGBACKBRITISHRAIL

  • The Virgin brand has always been to me, distasteful. Think about what that name signifies; female staff dressed in red- it has no place in 2019- its good to go. British Rail was horrific and there would be no possiblity of a public body now being able to run our railways.

  • By losing Virgin, we are losing the best train company that we have. The way the award of the westcoast franchise was handled was nothing more than a joke. It should be redone in a fair and honest way so Virgin can rebid, without being informed after the bid was in that you must take over a pension fund of a unknown amount. This franchise was idiotic from the start.

  • I dont think virgin should be punished because what happend with there partner stage coach if virgin can get another partner I think virgin should be aloud to rebid for the west coast main line. But on the other side we need to let first have ago as we cant say first isn’t good enough until the have had go at running it