FirstGroup, Stagecoach vie for HS2 high speed rail

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup and Perth-based Stagecoach are among the groups shortlisted in the bidding to run the new West Coast Partnership (WCP) rail franchise, which will include the initial HS2 high speed service between London and Birmingham.

Stagecoach was also listed in the groups hoping to run the next South Eastern franchise.

First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “FirstGroup, with our partner Trenitalia, will bid for the upcoming West Coast Partnership.

“We are well positioned with our partner to develop a completely new customer proposition both on the West Coast route, and, through the exciting opportunity this franchise offers, to design and run initial services on the HS2 network …

“Our partner Trenitalia is one of Europe’s top railway operators, and manages long haul services, both on high speed and conventional lines, as well as regional and metropolitan services.

“That complements our expertise in running long distance services such as those found on the West Coast routes.”

Stagecoach CEO Martin Griffiths said: “We are pleased that the extensive expertise and strong track-record of Stagecoach and our partners has been recognised in the shortlists announced by the government for these two rail franchises, both of which are critical to the country’s economy.

“We look forward to working with local stakeholders on shaping our plans to improve services for customers and deliver significant value to the taxpayer to reinvest in public services.”

The WCP will be responsible for services on the West Coast Main Line from April 2019 and will design and run the initial HS2 high speed services between London and Birmingham from 2026.

The WCP shortlist is:

  • First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Ltd and Trenitalia SpA
  • MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTRCorporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company, with the following key sub-contractors:
    • Deloitte MCS Ltd
    • Panasonic Systems Europe
    • Snowfall AB
    • Ltd
    • WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff
  • West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The West Coast Partnership will support growth and better services on the West Coast Main Line while helping to ensure that HS2 becomes the backbone of Britain’s railways.

“This will create more seats for passengers, improve connections between our great cities, free up space on existing rail lines and generate jobs and economic growth throughout the country.

“I look forward to seeing the bidders’ innovative ideas to put passengers at the heart of the railway.”

The winning bidder will collaborate with HS2 Ltd to design, launch and operate the initial HS2 services.

The companies in the running for the next South Eastern franchise are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd, a joint venture company that on franchise award will be wholly owned by Abellio Transport Group Ltd and East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd
  • London and South East Passenger Rail Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group plc
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd, wholly owned by Trenitalia SpA