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Lead Story: Issue 603 17 Aug 2012

First’s winning bid to run West Coast prompts Branson to attack DfT’s franchising ‘insanity’

The DfT this week awarded FirstGroup the West Coast Main Line franchise in a deal that will see the rail operator pay the DfT £5.5bn (net present value) over the lifetime of the contract, which runs from 9 December for a core period of 13 years and four months, with an option to extend to 15 years.

FirstGroup’s offer exceeded the £4.8bn premium proposed by incumbent operator Virgin Rail and prompted questions about First’s ability to meet the payments.

First West Coast...

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