Stagecoach Says Virgin Plans Role in East Coast Rail Bid

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has settled for a minority role in a joint venture bidding to run Britain’s East Coast rail route, with long-term partner Stagecoach Group Plc taking a controlling stake.

Stagecoach has a 90 percent shareholding in Inter City Railways Ltd., a new entity formed with Virgin to compete for the right to run the line, which link’s London’s Kings Cross station with Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The split is a departure from the pair’s Virgin Trains venture, which operates the West Coast route and is 51 percent controlled by Virgin, with Stagecoach holding 49 percent. The new structure resulted from “commercial discussions” with the Branson business, Perth, Scotland-based Stagecoach said.

“It’s a different structure, but if we were to be successful here this would be a Virgin-branded service, with all the strengths that brings,” Stagecoach Chief Executive Officer Martin Griffiths said in an interview.

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