FirstGroup and Trenitalia announce joint rail franchise bids
Transport company FirstGroup and Italian-owned train operator Trenitalia have announced they will bid together for two UK rail franchises.
The firms have formed joint ventures to bid for the West Coast Partnership and East Midlands franchises.
The franchises are due to be awarded in 2018.
The firms have already submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Transport for the East Midlands competition.
The West Coast Partnership is a new rail franchise which will combine the current InterCity West Coast main line with the planned HS2 high-speed services.
The operator will be responsible for services on both the West Coast main line from 2019 and running the initial HS2 services in 2026.
The West Coast franchise is currently run by Virgin Trains as a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin.
Steve Montgomery, managing director of Aberdeen-based First Group, said: "We are pleased to announce that we will be partnering with Trenitalia to bid for the upcoming East Midlands and West Coast Partnership rail franchises.
"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.
"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."