FirstGroup and Trenitalia are to launch joint bids for the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership franchise competitions.
The announcement follows the Italian state rail operator’s acquisition of c2c and further demonstrates the company’s ambitions in the UK market.
The joint venture has already submitted an expression of interest for the East Midlands franchise, which is due to be awarded in March 2018.
As well as the East Midlands franchise, the two operators will bid for the new West Coast Partnership franchise, which will combine the existing InterCity West Coast franchise and the initial service offering on HS2.
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. Our proposals will keep people moving and communities prospering.
“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, chief executive 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.”
She added: “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.”