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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Thousands sign petition demanding rethink on West Coast franchise decision

More than 50,000 people have so far signed an e-petition calling on the government to reconsider a decision to award the West Coast franchise to FirstGroup.

Related: Virgin loses West Coast rail franchise

The petition, on the e-petition section of the governmental website www.direct.gov.uk, says the West Coast line is worth millions of pounds thanks to investment and commitment from Virgin.

It calls on the government to rethink its plans, after announcing the contract would go to transport giant FirstGroup from December, when Virgin’s term ends.

“They have delivered a reliable service for 15 years and turned the line around,” it says.

“FirstGroup should show improvements in their existing services before being able to bid on more.

“Any previous time Virgin have lost a bid in a rail tender the winner has failed to deliver promised plan and revenue – the East Coast is still under Government ownership.”

It calls on the government to look at more than just the highest bidder. “Look what happened with G4S at London 2012,” creator Ross McKillop says.

The petition also calls on the government to put the process to public consultation, if it will not reconsider. It comes after a rail passenger watchdog called on Aberdeen-based FirstGroup to put travellers before profits.

TravelWatch North West, (TWNW) is the independent passenger champion for north west England.

Chairman Chris Dale, said: “It is imperative that no passenger benefits are lost because of the quest for cost savings to meet the high premium payments promised to the government.

“In particular Railcard holders must continue to keep the fares discounts they now enjoy at peak times and we stress that high priority must be given to retain and improve current facilities on trains – for example luggage space, toilet provision and catering.”

FirstGroup say they operate around a quarter of the UK’s passenger rail network, carrying over 300 million passengers a year, with a ‘portfolio of intercity, commuter and regional franchises.’

“The safety and security of our passengers and staff is fundamental to everything that we do,” they said.

“We continually seek to improve the safety culture throughout our business and apply a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to unsafe acts and practices. We are never complacent and continually strive to meet the highest possible standards.”

Have your say

As a regular First Group Customer (by necessity because it monopolises Reading-Paddington services) I experience delayed services on average at least 6 times per week, with a weekly total of at least 10 journeys. It's not unusual for all ten of my so-called peak time, fast trains to be delayed. With trains showing as 'arrived' when they are nowhere near the station and constant ridiculous excuses for delays, I find it incredible that the government awarded First Group the contract - regardless of the stupid money that was offered (incidentally, money not reinvested in their already unreliable trains elsewhere on the service).

Posted by NSM on 24 August 2012 at 14:05

Why is penrith station ticket office closed time after time? asked recently by the local mp. also the trains that virgin use may be ok, but the staff attitude, is very poor. virgin doesnt do cheap fares, look at a company like megatrain or similiar, a fraction of the prices that virgin charges.

Posted by John on 23 August 2012 at 18:52

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