Virgin are to continue the temporary operation of the West Coast mainline from the 9th December, in the latest update on the Government franchise debacle.
The Department for Transport (Dft) announced that it will be in discussions with the train service provider after a deal with First Group was dropped as a result of Government mistakes.
Virgin Rail will continue to run trains after the franchise expires for “a short period- expected to be between 9 and 13 months”.
Competition for an interim franchise will run during this period, although the franchise process has been brought into question by the errors made in Government over the West Coast deal.
Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, warned that by dropping First Group, the taxpayer may have to shell out up to £140m, while the Government is at risk of being sued by the firm.
Mr McLoughlin said: “The cancellation of the InterCity West Coast franchise is deeply regrettable and I apologise to the bidders involved and the taxpayer who have a right to expect better.
“My priority now is to fix the problem and the first step is to take urgent action to ensure that on the 9 December services continue to run to the same standard and passengers are not affected.”
Talks have also been halted over competition for the Essex Thameside franchise, as well as the Great Western and Thameslink programmes.
Two independent reviews will be carried out to determine where the Department for Transport went wrong in the West Coast deal and Government’s rail franchise programme.
Mr McLoughlin added: “I believe Virgin remaining as operator for a short period of time is the best way to do this and my officials and I will be working flat out to make this happen.”