Concern as Virgin loses franchise to FirstGroup

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VIRGIN Trains has denied
accusations that its service has declined since last week’s announcement that FirstGroup will run trains on the West Coast Main Line from December.

Several trains from Rugby were cancelled this week, leading to some commuters from Rugby facing a battle to get to work on time. The train company said all issues that affected delayed and cancelled trains were out of the company’s control and that it was eager to look after its customers until its contract runs out in December.

Meanwhile, Rugby Rain Users Group (RRUG) said it was disappointed with the Government’s decision and concerned that new provider FirstGroup had not announced any benefits that will affect the town.

Jeremy Thorne, of RRUG, said: “Overall Virgin Trains has done a commendable job in improving the quality and frequency of train services on the route. We have concerns about the quality and viability of First Group’s bid especially in regard to the long term financial commitments and the effect this might have on service quality.”

Mr Thorne said there were still no plans for the restoration of direct through services to the North West and Glasgow, for which RRUG has been campaigning for some time, or a suggestion of later services from London on Saturdays.

Callum Orzechowski, who has been commuting with Virgin to London since 2008, said: “I feel really disappointed for the Virgin rail team who have worked so hard to make the west coast line profitable. Customer service has been excellent but I’m worried it will suffer.”

Mark Pawsey MP added: “I’ve heard of a number of concerns on this matter and I want to assure people I’ll do all I can to ensure that Rugby retains the excellent services it presently enjoys. Last week I wrote to Transport Secretary Justine Greening asking that she ensures the present quality and frequency of services is maintained. I shall also meet with representatives from First Group in the near future.”