Channel tunnel train operator Eurostar is planning to submit a bid to operate the East Coast Main Line, a key rail route in the UK that is set to be privatised.
As part of the plan, Eurostar, a unit of SNCF, is partnering with Keolis, another subsidiary of France’s national state-owned railway company, to launch a joint bid for the rights to operate the line connecting London and Edinburgh.
Keolis will be lead partner in the joint venture, while Eurostar will possess a marginal share in the Keolis-Eurostar JV.
The successful bidder for the rail concession will be announced in October 2014, with the new franchise expected to commence operations in February 2015.
Eurostar chief executive officer Nicolas Petrovic said that by joining forces with Keolis, they bring a unique blend of expertise and innovation with a fresh perspective.
"The East Coast franchise is a vital economic artery and a key route for both business and leisure passengers, which represents an exciting opportunity for future growth and investment," Petrovic said.
The railway line has been operated under the Department for Transport since November 2009 after National Express pulled out of the contract mid-way thorugh its term.
Keolis already operates four rail franchises in the UK, including Southern, Southeastern, London Midland and TransPennine Express, in addition to the NET network.
The UK government expects to receive several interests when it starts the bidding process for the East Coast main line in October this year.
Other bidders for the project include Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Abellio and Arriva.
Image: The East Coast Main Line is a key route for both business and leisure passengers.