FirstGroup is joining with Italian rail operator Trenitalia to launch joint bids for the West Coast Partnership and East Midlands franchises due to be awarded in 2018.
First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail, the joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK, has today submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Transport over the East Midlands rail franchise competition. This part of the rail network links Liverpool and Manchester through to cities in the eastern half of the country, including Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby, and is currently controlled by Stagecoach.
The West Coast Partnership involves both running the West Coast main line currently run by Virgin from 2019, and designing and running the initial high-speed services due to come in with HS2 from 2026 onwards.
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 Hull Trains.
“Both ourselves and Trenitalia have extensive expertise of running commuter, regional and long distance services. 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 industry are making in the region’s rail infrastructure.”