EAST LANCASHIRE politicians have welcomed the government asking Virgin Trains to continue running services on the West Coast Mainline for at least nine months.

The move follows the fiasco over the award of the route franchise to FirstGroup, which had to be scrapped after a legal challenge exposed flaws in the process. In a Stock Exchange announcement ministers said they will hold talks with Virgin for a ‘temporary’ contract before a new competition.

Pendle peer Tony Greaves, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and his Ribble Valley counterpart Nigel Evans have all backed the move. Liberal Democrat Lord Greaves said: “It is a sensible move. Virgin are running a good service.”