Trenitalia buys UK rail company in 'foreign expansion plan'

Trenitalia buy National Express' City to Coast franchise

 ROME -- Trenitalia bought all shares of the private company National Express Essex Thameside (NXET) for around 70 million pounds, business sources said Thursday.

 The primary train operator in Italy Trenitalia -- owned by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS), itself owned by the Italian government -- purchased all NXET shares after the Trenitalia UK subsidiary (an English-run operation based in London) reached a deal with National Express Group PLC, writes Il Sole 24 ore.

 The private company NXET manages the links between London and Shoesburyness, on the West coast in the region of South Essex. It offers 400 routes for over 42 million passengers a year who use the 26 stations along this railway line.

 The formalization of the deal will happen after the authorizing procedure, already initiated by the British Department for Transport (DFT), has taken place. It was DFT that had put NXET up for a service contract, with a public call for a tender process expiring in 2029.

 NXET’s turnover is equal to about 200 million euros, it has 600 employees and a fleet of 74 Bombardier trains. Its acquisition by Trenitalia is seen as the first step to attack the UK market -- one with significant potential, in view of the bid to purchase the London-Edinburgh route, La Repubblica reports.

 It is another step in the Ferrovie dello Stato’s internationalization strategy, one of the cornerstones of their industrial plan for 2017-2026, which puts a lot of importance on growth abroad.

 FS plans to quadruple its current foreign turnover, positioning the group on the same level as the other European railway players, with the aim of multiplying income to 4.2 billion euros in 2026.

 In 2016, FS Italiane secured itself the train link between Athens and Thessaloniki thanks to the purchase of the Greek railway company Trainose.

  The managing director of Trenitalia said “we are satisfied about having the opportunity to compete in Great Britain, departing from NXET’s City to Coast service, the ideal launch pad towards the UK market. Simultaneously, we are still monitoring the public tenders published by the DFT in order to participate in some.”