Virgin Trains has been granted another year to run the west coast mainline, months after the government had to renationalise another line in which the rail operator had a stake.
The route, connecting London with Birmingham, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh, will remain under Virgin Trains’ operation until March 2020.
In June, services on the east coast mainline were brought back under public control following the failure of the Virgin Trains East Coast (Vtec) franchise.
Trains on the route, which also goes between London and Scotland, were subsequently run by the Department for Transport’s operator of last Resort – London North Eastern Railway (LNER).
A DfT spokesman said on Sunday: “This is not a new contract – it is a short extension period as allowed for in the current agreement.
“The extension will ensure a smooth transition into the West Coast Partnership, minimising disruption and delivering the best value for passengers and taxpayers.”