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Virgin Rail has lost its bid to continue running the West Coast Mainline and will be replaced by the UK's largest rail operator, FirstGroup.FirstGroup said it would "offer substantial improvements in the quality and frequency of services".
Unions and rail campaigners have argued jobs will be cut, fares will rise and catering services will be cut back.FirstGroup already operates a number of rail routes including Great Western and ScotRail.
The company, under the name First West Coast Limited, will take over the franchise from 9 December and is due to to operate the service until 2026.
Cumbrian 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.
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.
The MP has previously called for passengers and commuters to be given a say on who gets a contract to run a rail service.
He said 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."
The West Coast Mainline route serves 31 million passengers travelling between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the central belt of Scotland. FirstGroup says it will introduce 11 new 125mph six-car electric trains on the Birmingham-to-Glasgow route and provide more direct services between destinations.
Additional Pendolino tilting trains currently being introduced by Virgin will deliver more than 28,000 seats a day.
The government says FirstGroup's new trains should add further 12,000 seats a day on West Coast routes from 2016.
FirstGroup's chief executive Tim O'Toole said: "Our bid also delivers value for taxpayers by returning premiums to the government underpinned by sustainable growth in passenger numbers and revenues from the utilisation of significant available capacity,"
First West Coast says it will return £5.5bn at net present value to the government over the franchise term.
That is believed to have been much higher than the amount offered by Virgin Rail, which is 49%-owned by another transport company, Stagecoach.
In a statement, Stagecoach said the reason it had failed to secure the new franchise was because FirstGroup had contracted to pay "significantly higher premium payments" to the Department for Transport.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Rail has operated the West Coast franchise since 1997 after the privatisation of Britain's railways.
"We did not want to risk letting everybody down with almost certain bankruptcy at some time during the franchise, as happened to GNER and National Express who overbid on the East Coast mainline," said Sir Richard in a statement.
"Sadly the government has chosen to take that risk with FirstGroup and we only hope they will continue to drive dramatic improvements on this line for years to come without letting everybody down," he added.
Sir Brian Souter, the chief executive of Virgin's franchise partner Stagecoach, said: "I am bitterly disappointed that Virgin Rail has been unsuccessful in its bid."