ITALIAN train operator Trenitalia has announced that it is withdrawing from the competition to win the next South Eastern franchise.
The UK division of Trenitalia bought the c2c franchise from National Express earlier this year and has also been shortlisted for West Coast Partnership and East Midlands Trains.
South Eastern had attracted a shortlist of four. One is a joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, which would have been competing with Trenitalia, Stagecoach and the incumbent operator Govia.
It was the only current franchise competition where Trenitalia was the sole bidder, because the company has formed joint ventures with FirstGroup for the other two.
FirstGroup itself is poised to take over South Western on 20 August but again as part of a joint venture, this time with MTR.
Trenitalia said its decision to withdraw from the South Eastern competition had been taken 'regretfully', but it had identified a ‘significant overlap’ between the competitions for South Eastern and West Coast. South Eastern is due to be awarded in August 2018, with the West Coast Partnership result following in November.
Trenitalia UK chairman and managing director for Ernesto Sicilia said: “This has already been an extremely successful year for the business and we remain absolutely committed to increasing our presence in the UK rail market with a strategy based on our customer-centric approach.
“So far in 2017 we have acquired one franchise and been shortlisted for all three franchise competitions we expressed an interest in. Our c2c service continues to go from strength to strength as witnessed by the latest independent NRPS passenger survey, and we believe our skills and resources make us a strong joint-bidder for both the West Coast Partnership and East Midlands franchise competitions with our partners at FirstGroup.”
Trenitalia has several operating subsidiaries in Italy such as Trenord, which runs trains in the Lombardy region, but it is one of the newest entrants to the rail franchising market in Britain.