UK: The pre-qualified bidders for the Great Western, Thameslink and Essex Thameside passenger rail franchises were announced by the Department for Transport on March 29.
Absent from the lists was Spanish national operator RENFE, which had reportedly been seeking to enter the UK market.
- First Great Western Trains Ltd (FirstGroup plc)
- GW Trains Ltd (Arriva UK Trains Ltd/DB (UK) Investments Ltd)
- NXGW Trains Ltd (National Express Group plc)
- Stagecoach Great Western Trains Ltd (Stagecoach Group plc)
Invitations to tender are expected to be issued in May, with the successful bidder being announced in December and the 15-year contract commencing in April 2013.
- Abellio Essex Thameside Ltd (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
- First Essex Thameside Ltd (FirstGroup plc)
- MTR Corp (Essex Thameside) Ltd (MTR Corp Ltd)
- NXET Trains Ltd (National Express Group plc)
Invitations to tender are expected to be issued in June, with the successful bidder being announced in January 2013 and the 15-year contract commencing in May 2013.
- Abellio Thameslink Ltd (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
- First Thameslink Ltd (FirstGroup plc)
- Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd (Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis SA)
- MTR Corp (Thameslink) Ltd (MTR Corp Ltd)
- Stagecoach Thameslink Trains Ltd (Stagecoach Group plc)
Invitations to tender are expected to be issued in October, with the successful bidder being announced in May 2013 and the contract commencing in September 2013. The length of the franchise will be a minimum of seven years, with pricing also required for a potential extension of up to two years.
'The government is engaged in the biggest programme of refranchising since the privatisation of the railways', said Transport Minister Theresa Villiers. 'Our reformed approach to franchising will give more flexibility to train operators on how they configure services and run their business, within a framework set by the franchise agreement which will protect key outcomes for the passenger, the taxpayer and the economy. We welcome the strong interest shown in these three competitions by the rail industry. A vibrant and competitive market for franchises is an important part of our strategy for improving services for passengers and reducing the cost of running the railway.'
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