Keolis and Eurostar have announced that they are to enter a joint bid in the competition to operate the UK’s East Coast main line (ECML).
Keolis, which already operates the Southern, Southeastern, London Midland and TransPennine Express services, has said it will be the lead partner in the bidding consortium, with Eurostar representing a minority share.
The winning bidder will take over from the government’s Directly Operated Railways which took over the running of the line in 2009 following the cancellation of the franchise with National Express.
The successful bidder is expected to be announced in October 2014 for a February 2015 start.
Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said: “I believe that our ability to draw upon an international track record of delivering complex long-distance services, coupled with Eurostar’s reputation for customer excellence, is a unique proposition.
“What’s exciting about the East Coast Mainline is that there is an opportunity to transform a hugely important national route, which is yet to see the same levels of investment as the West Coast main line.
“We feel that our pedigree of international rail know-how and specifically as delivery partner for the UK’s first domestic high-speed service, makes us ideally placed to realise the East Coast main line’s potential.”
Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said: “By joining forces with Keolis, we bring a unique blend of expertise and innovation with a fresh perspective.
“The East Coast franchise is a vital economic artery and a key route for both business and leisure passengers which represents an exciting opportunity for future growth and investment.”