FirstGroup and Trenitalia are to bid together for the forthcoming East Midlands and West Coast Partnership franchises, the companies have announced.
The companies have formed two separate joint venture agreements, with First holding 70% of the equity in each and Trenitalia the remaining 30%. An expression of interest has been submitted for the East Midlands franchise, for which the franchise is due to be awarded in March 2018 ahead of a start in July of that year. Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director, said that Trenitalia’s 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’.
The West Coast Partnership competition will see the winning bidder operate classic services on the West Coast main line and also help design and then launch services on HS2, which are due to begin in 2026, and the franchisee will operate these for the first three to five years. The franchise is due to start in April 2019. Mr Montgomery said: ‘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: ‘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 (which owns Trenitalia).’