FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK have announced plans to jointly bid for the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership rail franchise competitions that are set to be awarded next year.

The passenger rail transportation company Trenitalia is part of FS Italiane Group.

First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery said: "Both ourselves and Trenitalia have extensive expertise of running commuter, regional and long-distance services such as those that make up the East Midlands franchise.

“Their knowledge will add further depth and understanding as we develop our proposals to deliver passenger benefits that take full advantage of the significant investment that government and the industry are making in the region’s rail infrastructure.”

FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK’s joint venture First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail has submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Transport regarding the competition.

"This partnership is a second milestone in our plan to expand in the UK rail passenger market."

Trenitalia CEO Barbara Morgante said: “We believe that the experience, competence, innovation and skills of our two companies, developed in international markets, represents a perfect mix to vie for these challenging bids.

“This partnership is a second milestone in our plan to expand in the UK rail passenger market, in line with the internationalisation plans of the entire FS Italiane Group.”

The next East Midlands franchise will cover major improvements to infrastructure and the franchise area.

Announced on 4 November last year, the West Coast Partnership franchise combines the exiting InterCity West Coast services with the development and introduction of High-Speed 2 (HS2) services.

The new franchise will provide services on the West Coast Main Line from 2019, as well as design and run the initial high-speed services from 2026. It will run for the first three to five years of operation of HS2.