FirstGroup is to take over the running of the West Coast mainline train route as part of a partnership award.

The route, which connects Glasgow Central to London Euston, will now benefit from more comfortable seats, flexible fares, and over 200 extra services per week.

The Department for Transport awarded the new West Coast Partnership to a 70:30 joint venture between FirstGroup plc and Trenitalia UK Ltd, entitled First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Limited.

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The partnership will operate from December 8, with the first phase lasting until March 2026. This will see First Trenitalia operate the existing InterCity West Coast services, before then going onto operating the High Speed 2 programme until March 2031 under a management contract. 

But what can customers look forward to?

More services

The partnership aims to introduce 263 extra services per week - with many of these being more direct services between London and Glasgow.

They will also be adding 23 new trains to their fleet to replace the 'unpopular' Voyager trains. This will be in addition to a refurbishment of the rest of their trains.

Better on-train experience

Comfier seats are on the cards with the promise of 25,000 new chairs onboard. Wifi will also be faster, reliable and free - which replaces the current charges put in place by Virgin. 

Wireless charging will feature on the services, and each seat will have access to a power socket for their smartphone. 

Improved station facilities

It is not just the trains that are getting a facelift - Glasgow Central Station will also benefit from the investment. Waiting rooms will be refreshed, and hundreds more car parking spaces will become available to passengers.

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Glasgow Central will have a completely remodeled ticket office, as well as new ticket vending machines to make it easier for customers to access travel.

Easier ticketing

More flexible fares will be introduced, and smart ticketing will allow customers to exchange or amend tickets bought from one channel on any other.

They will also introduce Delay Repay 15, which will ensure passengers are compensated if their train is more than 15 minutes late.

Investment in people

The partnership is promising no zero-hour contracts and has committed to the Real Living Wage for all-subcontracted employees.

They are also providing more apprenticeships than 'ever before'.

Environmentally friendly

The new fleets are expected to help cut carbon emissions by over 60%. Recycling is also set to increase to 90%, with zero waste sent to landfill.

A new onboard catering offer will also include free water refills.