As more than 100,000 people sign the petition set up by passenger Ross McKillop to force a debate in Parliament on the decision to strip Virgin Trains of the prestigious West Coast rail franchise, celebrities are offering their support.
Sir Richard Branson said: ‘In less than a week one hundred thousand of you have said that you believe that Virgin Trains should continue to run the west coast mainline and have called for the House of Commons to debate the issue. All of us at Virgin Trains are overwhelmed and thank you. Let us hope that sense prevails and your views are acted on quickly. I'd also like to thank Ross McKillop who uses Virgin Trains and FirstGroup regularly for starting this petition.’
Celebrities have joined the national discussion on twitter.
Stephen Fry - Something dodgy about Virgin losing their franchise?
Dermot O'Leary - Yo, been using Virgin Trains a lot this summer for the X, and those peeps are less than pleased about losing their contract. If you feel the same sign petition if not, no sweat. Personally I love the uniforms & the crew to Liverpool!
Eddie Izzard - I'm signing this e-petition. Government should reconsider. have read reasons to sign and think we should support it
Rio Ferdinand - u know you get good dindins coming home from Matches ;)
Joey Barton - I've just signed the epetition. Mainly because I use that line to get back home to see my family. It's reliable, comfortable
Derren Brown - Shame to see brilliant #VirginTrains unrewarded for such hard work. Do sign e-petition urging Government to rethink.
Key parliamentarians have responded to the mounting public concern. Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the influential House of Commons Transport Committee, has asked for the signing of the new contract to be delayed so that the committee can consider the issues.
Sir Richard said: "The Transport Committee is absolutely right to ask for a delay. The growing public concern about the franchise, and lack of answers from the Department for Transport, means that a pause for reconsideration is essential to let Parliament examine this very important issue."
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