The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded a contract to Virgin Trains to continue operating the West Coast Main Line, a major intercity railway route in the country.
Virgin Trains will pay approximately £430m to the UK Government over the contract, which will run from 22 June through March 2017.
Virgin Trains executive co-chairman Patrick McCall said: "This deal is great news for passengers and taxpayers, with significant benefits for our customers."
The scope of the contract includes the installation of superfast Wi-Fi on Virgin’s 76 Pendolino and Super Voyager trains, while Network Rail will provide track-side infrastructure.
"Together with thousands of extra seats and plans for new services, this deal will mean big improvements for millions of Virgin Trains passengers," McCall added.
The coach G on all 21 nine-car Pendolinos will be converted from first class to standard class by September 2015, which will increase the standard class capacity by 5,500 seats a day.
Virgin Trains is also expected to start new proposed services between Shrewsbury/Blackpool and London by December, under a partnership with Network Rail.
Approximately £20m will also be invested in station renovations with improved waiting rooms, extra ticket machines and passenger information help points, as well as an upgraded website and more staff redeployed to concourses and platforms.
Image: DfT plans for new direct services between Shrewsbury / Blackpool and London. Photo: courtesy of Virgin Trains.