A new operator for the West Coast Main Line calls an end to Virgin's control of the route.

Running from London to Glasgow, the important rail corridor had been ran by Virgin Trains since 1997.

The transport secretary Grant Shapps has today announced that the new operator will be FirstGroup.

Mr Shapps said: "This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.

"It is a partnership supported by Keith Williams (chairman of the independent rail review), built with the flexibility to respond to his recommendations and deliver fundamental reform to a flawed system.

"Meeting Keith last week confirmed our shared determination to deliver a future that puts passengers at the heart of the railways, and get our trains to run on time.

"That is why I have asked Keith to produce his recommendations for a white paper, with fearless proposals that will deliver a railway system fit for the 21st century."

Craig Johnston, a Carlisle based official with the RMT rail workers union said: "Virgin have certain values of customer service and staffing that we will want to see protected going forward in terms of members, guards and in terms of passenger service.

"They are an operator that has a reputation for making cuts and we will resist that."

A spokesman for Virgin Trains, which has ran trains on the West Coast route since 1997, said: "Virgin Trains has led the industry for 22 years, delivering faster journeys to more destinations, harnessing new technology and always putting the customer first.

"We'll now work with First Trenitalia to ensure a seamless handover for customers, who should still book and travel as normal."

FirstGroup chief executive Matthew Gregory said: "We are pleased to have won the West Coast Partnership contract to operate existing InterCity services on the West Coast Main Line and help deliver high speed rail.

"The West Coast Partnership includes operation of one of the most consistently successful intercity mainline franchises over the last 20 years.

"We are committed to delivering a range of improvements for InterCity West Coast passengers during the first phase of the partnership and our aim is to provide exceptional service as standard for our customers.

"In 2016, we and our partner Trenitalia committed to bidding for the West Coast Partnership as it is a unique opportunity to help shape and then run HS2.

"We look forward to playing our part in the success of the once-in-a-generation project to bring Britain's largest cities closer together."