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West Coast Partnership contract signed

UK: The West Coast Partnership contract was formally signed by the Department for Transport and First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Ltd on August 28.

The 70:30 joint venture of transport group FirstGroup plc and the Trenitalia UK Ltd subsidiary of Italy’s national railway holding group FS had been named preferred bidder on August 14. Signing of the contract followed the expiry of the regulatory standstill period of at least 10 days.

As with other franchise awards, a ‘phase one review’ of the competition implications of the contract is to be carried out by the Competition & Markets Authority.

The WCP contract has two phases. In the initial phase starting on December 8, First Trenitalia will replace the Virgin Rail Group joint venture of Virgin and Stagecoach as operator of inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line. It would also act as ‘shadow operator’ providing design, development and mobilisation services during the development of High Speed 2.

In the second phase, First Trenitalia would operate HS2 and reshaped West Coast Main Line services under a management contract running from March 2026 until March 2031.

DfT said the WCP contract had been designed to ensure that the outcomes of the current independently-led government review of the HS2 project can be implemented.

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