The UK’s Department for Transport has announced that First Trenitalia has won the contract to operate the West Coast Partnership.

From December, First Trenitalia will operate West Coast Partnership until 2031.

The West Coast Partnership is set to provide a wide range of benefits to commuters, including new trains, increased number of seats, simplified fares and more frequent services on the West Coast Main Line.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the government intends to release a white paper in due course and will also include recommendations of Rail Review chair Keith Williams, with an objective to offer a truly passenger-focused industry.

Shapps said: “This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.

“It is a partnership supported by Keith Williams, built with the flexibility to respond to his recommendations and deliver fundamental reform to a flawed system.”

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West Coast Partnership also addresses issues raised by the Williams Review, through forecast revenue mechanism (FRM) to eliminate the issues that previously affected the East Coast Main Line.

Williams said: “The railway needs reform that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers. I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation.

“This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”

The latest award confirms that passengers will benefit from 263 extra train services every week from December 2022 and destinations including Llandudno and Gobowen will now be served by direct trains to and from London.

First Trenitalia will also completely replace the diesel-only fleet with new environmentally friendly trains and reduce CO2 emissions by 61%.

It will also invest £117m in a major refurbishment of the current Pendolino fleet.

The operator will also introduce new solar panels and energy-efficient air conditioning and aims to achieve an 80% reduction in non-recyclable waste from products sold or supplied on-board trains.

Last March, the UK Government has invited bid applications for its West Coast Partnership franchise.