Local MP Andrew Gwynne has criticised the Government after it handed the contract for operation of the West Coast main line – a route used by many local residents  – to First Group, ahead of current operator Virgin Trains.

The decision has been widely criticised as a self-interested move by the Conservative Transport Secretary Justine Greening, after it emerged that First Group’s offer was more than £700m more than that of the current operator, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Branson has also criticised the move, accusing First Group of sacrificing jobs and the financial stability of the franchise. It has also emerged that fares will be rising by 11% next year, a slap in the face for those residents of Denton and Reddish who will use the line.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“In what is a purely greedy move by the Department for Transport, Justine Greening is sacrificing local jobs and taking money straight out of the pockets of rail passengers here in Denton and Reddish.

“I absolutely condemn the move to take the contract away from Virgin Trains, who have run the line incredibly well in an industry not renowned for efficiency and good management. Ms Greening’s move is an attack on those residents and business employees and who travel to Scotland and London.

“I have received lots of correspondence from employees of Virgin Trains who are very worried about their futures now that the debt-laden First Group has been awarded the franchise. I call on the Department to reverse its decision.”

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