The Department for Transport has formally commenced the search for a new West Coast franchisee.
During 2009/10 £720 million was generated for Virgin Trains, the current operator, by passenger related revenue. Virgin operates 300 services a day, equating to around 26 million passenger journeys a year and over 3.2 billion passenger miles per annum.
The new franchise will commence in April 2012 and Virgin has said it will bid to retain the franchise, which will run for a minimum of 14 years, with pricing also required for the possible extension of up to 1 year.
There is also a strong possibility that the new franchisee will have to take responsibility for maintaining some of its main stations. Further details of this will be sent out to the shortlisted applicants.
Shortlisted bidders, of which there are expected to be between 3 and 5, will be named in March with invitations to tender going out in May. The successful bidder will be announced in late 2011.
Applicants must have sufficient financial backing to place a performance bond of £45 million and a season ticket bond of £5 million.