September 9, 2012 / 11:05 AM / 7 years ago

West Coast rail franchise to be nationalised - paper

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government is preparing to nationalise Virgin Trains’ West Coast railway train operating franchise following its attempts to delay the handover of the network to rival operator First Group which won the franchise renewal bid, the Sunday Times newspaper said.

Virgin’s campaign for a judicial review of the government’s decision to award the franchise to First Group has delayed the signing of the contract and could put back indefinitely the handover, which is due to take place on December 9.

Ministers are now preparing to transfer the service to state-owned Directly Operated Railways, the paper said, quoting the Department for Transport as saying it was “looking at our responsibilities under section 30 of the Railways Act and it is only prudent to increase our focus on contingency planning”.

The Department for Transport declined to comment further.

Virgin Trains, a joint venture of entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and trains and buses operator Stagecoach, could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Laurence Fletcher; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

This story was refiled to correct typographical error in spelling of "entrepreneur"

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