FirstGroup, Trenitalia bid for rail franchises

Bus and rail giant FirstGroup and Italy’s Trenitalia UK said they will bid together for the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership rail franchises due to be awarded in 2018.

Trenitalia recently agreed to acquire the c2c franchise, which operates services between London’s Fenchurch Street and Essex, from National Express Group for about £70 million.

First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail Limited, a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK, has submitted an expression of interest to the UK Department for Transport in respect of the East Midlands rail franchise competition.

Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director said: “We have a strong track record in delivering continued modernisation and investment, alongside industry partners, through our rail operating companies Great Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Rail Operator of the Year, Hull Trains.

“Both ourselves and Trenitalia have extensive expertise of running commuter, regional and long distance services such as those that make up the East Midlands franchise.

“Their knowledge will add further depth and understanding as we develop our proposals to deliver passenger benefits that take full advantage of the significant investment that government and the industry are making in the region’s rail infrastructure …

“Similarly, Trenitalia have transformed the customer experience on Italy’s railways through their high speed Frecciarossa routes.

“They will be a world class bidding partner as we develop proposals to deliver excellent services for West Coast passengers and work closely with HS2 Ltd to deliver the best solutions for the new HS2 service whilst reducing crowding on the existing network and generate economic growth up and down the country.”

Barbara Morgante, CEO of Trenitalia, said: “We believe that the experience, competence, innovation and skills of our two companies, developed in international markets, represents a perfect mix to vie for these challenging bids.

“Trenitalia is ready to bring all its competencies to the partnership, both from a technical and commercial side, developed in the highly competitive Italian market.

“Our proposal will be driven by our highly customer focused vision.

“Our recent agreement-in-principle for the acquisition of c2c also serves to transform us from a potential new comer into a convincing, and effective, player in the UK market, and will strengthen the Trenitalia-FirstGroup partnership.

“This partnership is a second milestone in our plan to expand in the UK rail passenger market, in line with the internationalisation plans of the entire FS Italiane Group.”