LONDON Oct 2 FirstGroup said it was
preparing to take over the running of Britain's West Coast rail
line Later this year, despite a legal appeal over the contract
award by incumbent Virgin Trains.
Bus and rail operator FirstGroup on Tuesday said that its
focus was on ensuring a smooth transition for staff and
passengers as it made plans to start running the franchise on
Dec. 9, having been awarded the deal by the UK government in
Virgin Trains has said a legal challenge it started against
the British government could prevent the contract with
FirstGroup being signed, legal action which FirstGroup
acknowledged but indicated was not affecting its plans.
"We continue to prepare for a successful mobilisation on 9
December 2012," the company said in a statement.
Virgin Trains, a joint venture between high-profile
billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Stagecoach
, has run the service between London, north west England
and Scotland, for 15 years but lost out in the contract
The tycoon argues that said Britain's Department for
Transport's decision needs to be reviewed because FirstGroup's
numbers do not stack up.
FirstGroup said that trading in the first six months of the
year across the rest of its business, which includes school
buses and Greyhound coaches in the U.S. and buses in the UK, was
in line with expectations and it was committed to dividend
growth of 7 percent for its current financial year.