Virgin Rail to keep Westcoast Mainline for two years

Contract lasts until 2014.

A Virgin train. Photograph: Getty Images

Virgin Trains will run the West Coast mainline for an additional 23 months, the Government said today.

The deal comes after a 13 year contract is thrown out when it was mistakenly awarded to FirstGroup. The decision between the two companies had been based on what transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin called “completely unacceptable” numerical mistakes. An inquiry examinining why the £5bn deal fell apart in October is about to be published.

Virgin Rail will bid again for the 13 month deal when it reopens, according to Stagecoach. The government said the Department for Transport could reduce the 23-month deal by up to six months if the longer term deal became available.