It has been revealed that French state operator SNCF has joined Stagecoach and Virgin in a consortium bidding to run the West Coast Partnership, which is due to start in 2019 and is also intended to run trains on Phase 1 of HS2 from 2026. All three have been working on the expression of interest, which was lodged with the Department for Transport yesterday (Monday). SNCF will have a 30 per cent stake. ‘Thrilled’ Virgin said the agreement would put the consortium in the ‘best possible position’ to win the franchise but the RMT has condemned the plan, calling for the next West Coast franchise to be publicly owned.
Talks are set to take place today (Monday) and tomorrow between the RMT and Govia Thameslink Railway in the long-running dispute over the introduction of driver-controlled working on Southern. The union has called for ‘no interference’ with the negotiations. The dispute has been running for a year, and has caused 31 strikes by the RMT alone.
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