Virgin Trains is a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by Virgin Group (51%) and Stagecoach (49%) that has operated the InterCity West Coast franchise since March 1997. Virgin Trains operate long-distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between Greater London, the West Midlands, North West England, North Wales and Scotland. The service connects the major cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow which have a combined metropolitan population of over 18 million people.
Virgin Trains' franchise was due to expire in December 2012. Although the franchise was subsequently awarded to FirstGroup, in October 2012 the government announced it was cancelling the franchising process for the InterCity West Coast franchise after finding significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted, with the government to negotiate a franchise extension for 9 to 13 months with Virgin Trains.
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