Virgin loses high-profile UK rail franchise

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LONDON (AP) — Virgin Trains will lose its franchise to operate the busy London to Scotland west coast route after being outbid by a rival.

Virgin was joined by unions in claiming Wednesday that First Group had bid too much and would be forced to jack up fares and reduce the quality of service.

The Department for Transport said First Group had promised to put more trains on the line, adding 12,000 seats per day, to cut the cost of a standard fare and to speed up schedules.

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, says that this was the fourth time it had been outbid for a rail franchise. In the previous three cases, Branson claims that the winners failed to deliver promised improvements.

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