London - Britain awarded a short-term rail contract to Virgin Trains to continue to run the West Coast Main Line, the department of transport said on Thursday.

The department said Virgin would pay more than 430 million pounds to run the franchise, which stretches from London to Scotland, for two years and nine months before a longer term contract for the route starts in April 2017.

The government had in 2012 made a long-term contract award for the West Coast route but the process was bungled and it was forced to pull the award and ask Virgin to continue as operator on an interim basis.

Virgin is a joint venture between Richard Branson's Virgin Management and British transport operator Stagecoach Group. - Reuters