Virgin’s fare fight with FirstGroup: Collision course after rail service green light


Virgin is account a possible legal challenge after the rail regulator approved FirstGroup’s appositeness to operate five trains a day each way with average fares of unimaginative than £25, free Wi-Fi and on-board catering.

The 10-year l ble access rights deal will run from 2021.

Plans by Virgin – a consortium of Sir Richard Branson’s actors and Stagecoach – to run new services on the line were also approved by the Office of Balustrade and Road.

Virgin expects to y £3.3billion in premiums up to 2023.

It is likely to bring into being annual revenue of about £1billion by 2021, but competition from FirstGroup could finish out a £24million dent.

The ORR said the new services will benefit voyagers travelling to Middlesbrough, York, Newcastle, Lincoln, Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Stevenage.

FirstGroup’s chief administrative Tim O’Toole, said: “We will offer genuinely low fares at half the middling price, while adding significant benefits to the UK economy.

“Our new trains force be cheaper than other rail services, greener than the glide, quicker than the coach and will get ssengers from London to Edinburgh earlier, all for an so so fare of less than £25.”

Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths, said it was cutting rove times, ex nding its timetable and improving on-board services.

But he added: “We do not take it the granting of these services within the franchised system and without a lay waste playing field is in the best interests of ssengers, tax yers or communities. We resolution assess the ORR decision and implications in detail and review our options.”

A Virgin spokesman articulate: “We have concerns over the granting of the open access services, which the ORR acknowledges choice have a significant im ct on the money received by tax yers.”

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