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Stagecoach teams up to bid for UK west coast rail franchise

Staff Writer |
Stagecoach Group and Virgin Group said they are joining forces with French high speed operator SNCF to bid for the West Coast Partnership rail franchise.

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The UK government has announced that the West Coast Partnership franchise will run from 2019. The franchise will include current West Coast services and the first few years of operation of High Speed 2, or HS2, services.

The government unveiled the new rail franchise in November aimed at combining the current InterCity West Coast services with the development and introduction of HS2 services.

"The franchise, which will run for the first three to five years of operation of HS2, is the first step in attracting a world-class bidding group to develop and enhance the service for West Coast passengers and pave the way for the introduction of HS2 services in the future," the government said in November.

The new franchise will be responsible for services on both the West Coast Main Line from 2019 and designing and running the initial high speed services from 2026, according to the UK government.

Stagecoach has a 50% share in the bid vehicle, West Coast Partnership Ltd, with a 30% share held by SNCF, and the remaining 20% is owned by Virgin. It is envisaged that services under a successful bid would carry the Virgin brand.

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