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First Trenitalia to take over West Coast Main Line rail services

First Trenitalia has won the contract to run rail services on the West Coast Main Line.

Aberdeen-based firm First Group and Trenitalia UK, a subsidiary that is ultimately owned by the Italian government, will run the service as a 70-30 joint venture.

The Department of Transport said the partnership First Trenitalia will begin running services from 8 December 2019.

The West Coast Main Line runs from London to Glasgow through Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

The consortium will also design and develop High Speed 2 (HS2) as a “Shadow Operator” and run HS2 from March 2026 until 2031 along with the reshaped West Coast rail services.

Virgin Trains, the current operator of the rail line, was barred from bidding to keep the route over a pensions contributions dispute.

First Trenitalia said it will will run 56 refurbished Pendolino trains 260 extra services each week and will begin to offer 260 extra services each week from 2022.

The company said it will also begin services to new destinations including Liverpool South Parkway, Walsall and Gobowen (for Oswestry), and offer more stops at stations including Rugby, Llandudno Junction and Motherwell.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said the bidding process for the contract had the support of Keith Williams, Chair of the Rail Review, who has been looking into reforms needed for the franchising model.

He said: “It is a Partnership supported by Keith Williams, built with the flexibility to respond to his recommendations. Meeting Keith last week confirmed our shared determination to deliver a future that puts passengers – and punctual trains – at the heart of the railways.

“That is why I have asked Keith to produce a White Paper in the Autumn, with fearless recommendations that will deliver a railway system fit for the 21st century.”

Mr Williams added: “The railway needs reform that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers. I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation.

“This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”

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