By Daniel Hunter

Following the Government's decision to ditch their deal with FirstGroup for the West Coast Mainline, Virgin Trains will be asked to continue to run services for at least another nine months.

In a stock exchange announcement ministers said they will hold talks with Virgin for a "temporary" contract.

The bidding process for the new franchise agreement will then be run, again, following the first bid, that was won by FirstGroup only to see the agreement ditched at the last minute.

The decision to give FirstGroup the route from December was withdrawn over "technical flaws" in the bid process.

The Department for Transport told the London Stock Exchange it hoped Virgin would remain as the West Coast Mainline operator for between nine and 13 months while a competition was run for an interim franchise agreement.

"The government believes that this is the best way to ensure services are maintained and that there is no impact on passengers," it added.

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