Virgin Trains will end its 22-year spell as the franchise operating the West Coast Mainline just before midnight on 7 December.
The last Virgin train to leave Manchester Piccadilly for London Euston will depart at 8.35pm on 7 December, whilst the last train to arrive from London will dock at 11.39pm.
This will mark the end of the Virgin franchise on the West Coast Mainline, which has seen passenger numbers treble since 1997.
First Group and Trenitalia have joined forces and will run the West Coast Mainline from December 2019 to 2031; the joint venture – First Trenitalia – was awarded the franchise in August by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Virgin were excluded from bidding to keep the route, as Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary at the time, said the bid was part of the shift to a new model, supported by Keith Williams who has been commissioned to look at changes to the franchising system.
Mr Shapps previously said the new franchise will deliver “significant benefits for passengers,” and from December 2022, there will be an extra 263 trains every week on the route.
Whilst no specific details have been released, the new partnership say that there will be later trains to London Euston during the week, from December 2020.
Newer trains will be added to the fleet serving the line, and further destinations will be served by direct trains to and from London.
The First Trenitalia partnership commented: “To increase capacity and improve journeys, we’re replacing outdated diesel Voyager trains with 23 new trains to our fleet on the existing West Coast Mainline.
“We will also refurbish the existing fleet to be as new so that across the Pendolino fleet, 25,000 new seats will be installed meaning a more comfortable journey for passengers.”
Sir Richard Branson said: “While I am devastated to see Virgin Trains gone from the UK, I’m so proud of everything we have achieved over the past 22 years.”