The West Coast mainline train route will be taken over by FirstGroup.

The company will take over the line, which runs from Glasgow to London via Carlisle and Penrith, in December from Virgin Trains.

It is working in partnership with Italian firm Trenitalia, FirstGroup said the route would mark the start of an era of high speed rail.

The losing bidder was the Hong Kong-based MTR Group.

Virgin Trains, which worked with Stagecoach in a partnership to run the line, was barred from bidding to keep the route.

It has launched a judicial review into that decision.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the bid was part of a shift to a new model for rail.

UK transport firm Stagecoach has been disqualified from three rail franchise competitions, including the West Coast mainline.

Stagecoach said it was informed by the Department for Transport that it has been banned after submitting non-compliant bids "principally in respect of pensions risk".

Virgin Trains ran the West Coast services since 1997.

The West Coast Partnership franchise is due to be awarded in June.

Following the disqualification, a Virgin Trains spokesman said: "We're very disappointed by the unexpected decision.

"We've led the industry for more than 20 years with our ground-breaking innovations, such as automatic delay repay, and award-winning customer service."

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: "We are extremely concerned at both the decision and its timing.

"The department has had full knowledge of these bids for a lengthy period and we are seeking an urgent meeting to discuss our significant concerns.

"We have drawn on more than two decades of rail experience and worked in partnership with local stakeholders to develop high quality proposals to improve each of these rail networks."

The Department for Transport claimed Stagecoach breached established rules and insisted the company was responsible for its own disqualification.

It added: "We have total confidence in our process. We have awarded the East Midlands franchise to Abellio after they presented a strong, compliant bid."

Keith Williams, chairman of the Rail Review, said the way train companies are contracted to run services is "no longer delivering clear benefits".

His inquiry will conclude in the autumn.