West Coast Main Line Future To Be Revealed
A deal allowing Virgin to continue running trains on the West Coast Main Line is expected to be confirmed later.
It is believed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin could also publish the independent report he commissioned when he was forced to scrap the West Coast franchise bidding process.
Virgin has run the line since 1997, but in August the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that a new 13-year West Coast franchise had been awarded to rival transport company FirstGroup.
It was only after Sir Richard, who had branded the bidding process "insane", mounted a legal challenge to the decision that Mr McLoughlin scrapped the bidding process, saying there had been mistakes by the DfT.
Three DfT officials were suspended and negotiations were started with a view to getting Virgin to run the line for between nine and 13 months before a short interim franchise was offered followed by a longer one later.
The details and length of the shorter deal are expected to be announced today, with speculation that Virgin could carry on for as long as two years.
When he pulled the plug on the West Coast franchise bidding, Mr McLoughlin appointed businessman Sam Laidlaw to produce an independent report into the fiasco.
After producing damning initial findings, which listed failings by the DfT, Mr Laidlaw presented his full report to the department last week.
But with one of the suspended department officials, Kate Mingay, mounting a legal challenge to her suspension, Mr McLoughlin announced that he was delaying the Laidlaw report publication until this week.