TRENITALIA HAS withdrawn from the competition for the next South Eastern franchise.

The company had been shortlisted to bid alongside incumbent operator Govia, Stagecoach, and a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui. The invitation to tender is due to be released in September, with the franchise awarded in August 2018 ahead of a start in December of that year.

Trenitalia says the decision follows recent confirmation there will be ‘a significant overlap’ between the South Eastern and West Coast Partnership competitions. The company is bidding for WCP, which it says it has considered its primary target, as part of a joint venture with FirstGroup, in which it holds a 30% share; the company is also bidding in a similar venture for the East Midlands franchise. It currently operates c2c, having bought that franchise from National Express at the start of the year.