FRENCH national operator SNCF has teamed up with Virgin and Stagecoach to bid for the next West Coast franchise, which will also include the launch of High Speed 2 services.
SNCF has a 30% stake in the joint venture, with Stagecoach taking 50% and Virgin Group the remaining 20%.
As with the current East Coast franchise, in which Stagecoach holds a 90% stake, the trains will carry Virgin branding if the bid is successful.
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Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains co-chairman, said: “I’m delighted that SNCF has come on board. Together we will put forward what we hope is the winning bid for the next West Coast, and first HS2, franchise.
“We’ve just celebrated 20 years of Virgin Trains and this news puts us in the best possible position to make it 30.”
Chairman and CEO of SNCF Guillaume Pepy said: “This is a very exciting development for SNCF. We are world leaders in high-speed rail. SNCF has a long-standing commitment to working in partnership with British companies, using their local knowledge and sharing our expertise and experience.”
Read more in the May issue of The RM – on sale now!