New train operating company, First Trenitalia will run Britain’s most lucrative West Coast Main Line from December 2019: it will provide intercity services between Glasgow to London, as well as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Born of a consortium between First Group – the majority partner – and Trenitalia UK, First Trenitalia will pay the Treasury £1.6billion in premiums, until 2026, to operate and improve current main line services while preparing for high-speed rail.
First Group invited Trenitalia into the West Coast Partnership because it had built and continues to run 1000km of high-speed rail in Italy – this expertise enabled the partnership to meet a key specification that bidders had the necessary high-speed rail experience.
Yearly readiness reviews will be conducted by the Department for Transport to ensure that the franchisee is making adequate preparations to manage and run HS2 from 2026, following the opening of the first phase of high-speed network operations between London and Birmingham.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps and the leader of UK’s rail operations government review, Keith Williams, believe this venture will provide enough flexibility for the development of Williams’s customer-centred reform recommendations.
Shapps said: “this award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.