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MP calls for urgent rail meeting after West Coast tender

August 15, 2012 9:56 AM

Tim Farron MP & Cllr Andy Shine at Oxenholme StationCumbrian MP Tim Farron has called for an urgent meeting with FirstGroup, the new providers of the West Coast Main Line to talk to them about their plans for investment and ticket pricing.

Today it was announced by the Department of Transport that FirstGroup had won the tender to run the West Coast Main Line for the next 14 years. Virgin, which today lost the contract, has been running the London to Scotland line for the last 15 years.

FirstGroup will take over the running of the line in December.

State backed Dutch train company, Abellio, and France's SNCF are also believed to have bid for the line. West Coast was Virgin's only remaining franchise. It lost the Cross Country franchise to Arriva in 2007.

Tim has previously called for passengers and commuters to be given a say on who gets a contract to run a rail service.

Tim commented this morning: "The fact that we now have a new operator of the West Coast Main Line could give FirstGroup the opportunity to increase prices while decreasing services. This for me is a big worry and I will do everything I can to make sure that this does not happen.

"I want to meet FirstGroup bosses as soon as possible to talk to them about their plans for the route, protection of local jobs and further investment to upgrade Oxenholme station.

"FirstGroup have not covered themselves with glory locally with proposed cuts on their TransPennine franchise - and at the meeting I will also take the opportunity to raise our campaign to defend through trains from Windermere and Grange-over-Sands to Manchester Airport, which are vital for tourism and business in the Lake District."