Abellio, Arriva, Stagecoach and a FirstGroup/Trenitalia joint venture have been shortlisted for the new East Midlands rail franchise.
The route has been operated by Stagecoach under the East Midlands Trains brand since 2007. The company has been shortlisted despite being under scrutiny for the performance of its East Coast operator, VTEC.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said there was “no adequate legal grounds to restrict Stagecoach from bidding”.
It is the second time that the DfT has announced a shortlist for the East Midlands franchise. The competition process was restarted last year following the cancellation of the Midland main line electrification programme north of Kettering and Corby.
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We are also pleased to have been shortlisted for the new East Midlands franchise.
“At East Midlands Trains, we are proud of the improvements we have delivered for customers and our people over the past 10 years, and we look forward to working with local stakeholders on our plans to maximise the benefit of the railway for the regional economy.”
The new franchise is due to begin in August 2019.