National Express has struck a £70m deal to sell its c2c rail operation in south Essex to Italy’s Trenitalia, increasing the number of UK franchises in European hands.
The sale of the c2c franchise, which runs from Fenchurch Street in the City of London Southend-on-Sea and Shoeburyness, signals National Express’s exit from the UK rail market to focus on “significant growth” opportunities in the US and Europe.
Trenitalia joins a string of European state-owned operators running services in the UK, including the Netherlands’ Abellio, whose franchises include Greater Anglia, France’s Keolis, through a joint venture with Go-Ahead Group, and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, which owns Arriva.
Dean Finch, chief executive of National Express Group, said c2c was the UK’s “best performing franchise” but the deal provided “opportunities for all concerned”.
The move is expected to be completed next month, if given the green light by the Department for Transport. National Express said the deal would result in a “small net profit” and provide the “best, and fair, deal” for shareholders.