THE FIRSTGROUP/TRENITALIA joint venture has withdrawn from bidding for the new East Midlands franchise, due to start in August 2019.
The companies, who had announced their intention to bid in a 70:30 joint venture, say the withdrawal is to allow them to concentrate on bidding for the West Coast Partnership franchise.
Three bidders remain in the competition to run the next East Midlands franchise: Stagecoach, Abellio and Arriva. Stagecoach currently runs East Midlands Trains under a direct award running until April 2019, with a further short award planned before the new franchise starts. According to the Department for Transport’s latest rail franchise schedule, the issue of an Invitation to Tender for the new franchise was expected by the end of April, but this was yet to be released as we went to press.
The West Coast Partnership franchise will start in September 2019, and an Invitation to Tender has already been issued by DfT (p28).
Bidding alongside the First/Trenitalia joint venture are a joint venture of Stagecoach, Virgin and SNCF, and a venture led by MTR and Guangshen Railway. The franchise is planned to include preparation for and operation of the first services on HS2.