Apr 10, 2019

Virgin Trains 'could disappear' after franchise bar

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson says his train business could disappear from the UK after its partner Stagecoach was barred from three rail franchise bids. Sir Richard, whose Virgin Trains is 49% owned by Stagecoach, said he was "Devastated" by the disqualification. Virgin was bidding to renew the West Coast franchise in partnership with Stagecoach and France's SNCF. Stagecoach had also put in for the East Midlands and South Eastern franchises, both of which have been rejected. Stagecoach had bid independently for the East Midlands franchise, had intended to partner with Alstom for the South Eastern operations, and was jointly bidding for the West Coast Partnership with Virgin and SNCF. Stagecoach shares were down 11.5% by late Wednesday afternoon. Stagecoach has a painful recent memory of getting a franchise bid wrong.

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