I am no fan of Sir Richard Branson or his business partner, Sir Brian Soutar but, for once, they have my sympathies.
From the early 80's until quite recently, I used to travel from the North West to London every month and saw how bad British Rail got before privatisation. The West Coast route was one of the last to be privatised and so Virgin inherited the most shabby and decrepit rolling stock in the country. Trains frequently broke down and almost always ran late.
Despite this, my enduring memory of Virgin Rail will be of their ever helpful and friendly staff. No matter what was going wrong with the trains they would always do their best to look after passengers and try to stay cheerful.
I hope that First Group looks after them properly when they take over the route in January. They have a track record of walking away from past failures and I hope they don't repeat this on the West Coast.