Avanti West Coast - Avanti West Coast History / Avanti West Coast Background - B

Avanti West Coast - B

Avanti West Coast History

Avanti West Coast Background

In November 2016, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the InterCity West Coast franchise would be superseded by the West Coast Partnership (WCP). The principal change of the WCP was the inclusion of the High Speed 2 (HS2) services, then envisioned to start around 2026. Accordingly, the DfT required that bidders have experience in operating high-speed trains and the associated infrastructure, which led to all tendering parties either being, or partnering with, an existing high-speed operator.

During June 2017, the DfT announced that three consortia had been shortlisted to bid for the franchise:

  • FirstGroup (70%) / Trenitalia (30%)
  • MTR Corporation (75%) / Guangshen Railway Company (25%)
  • Stagecoach (50%) / SNCF (30%) / Virgin Group (20%)
    • In December 2018, the Spanish state-owned company Renfe Operadora joined the MTR-led bid. During April 2019, it was announced that the incumbent Stagecoach-led bid had been disqualified after it had proposed significant changes to the commercial terms, specially in regards to staff pensions. Stagecoach disputed its disqualification and launched a legal challenge to have it overturned, however, on 17 June 2020, the High Court ruled against the company and that the decision had been lawful.
    • In August 2019, the DfT awarded the franchise to the First Trenitalia consortium with Avanti West Coast to commence operations on 8 December 2019. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a merger inquiry into the award of the franchise following a referral from the European Commission. During December 2019, it was announced that the CMA had approved the franchise's award, concerns that limited competition on some routes could lead to higher fares and less availability of cheaper tickets were offset by the agreement of price caps to be present in some regions.

Avanti West Coast Overview

Avanti West Coast Franchise(s): West Coast Partnership
Avanti West Coast Main Region(s):
Greater London
North West England
South East England
West Midlands

Avanti West Coast Other Region(s):
East Midlands
East of England

Avanti West Coast Fleet Size:
18 Class 221 Super Voyagers
56 Class 390 Pendolinos

Avanti West Coast Stations Called at: 46
Avanti West Coast Stations Operated: 16
Avanti West Coast Parent Company: FirstGroup (70%)
Trenitalia (30%)

Avanti West Coast Reporting Mark: VT
Avanti West Coast Dates of Operation: 8 December 2019–15 October 2023
Avanti West Coast Predecessor: Virgin Trains


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