Train firms eye West Coast line

FOUR European state-backed train firms have expressed interest in replacing Virgin Trains as the operator of the London-to-Glasgow West Coast rail franchise.

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, Italy’s Trenitalia, Holland’s Abellio and Spain’s Renfe are said to be among firms considering a bid to operate the lease. The franchise is up for grabs from next year in a deal that extends to 2026.

The line carries 27m passengers per year and helped Virgin Trains book a pre-tax profit of £76.4m in 2009.