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Tuesday 14th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

THE newest foreign owner of Britain’s privatised railway said yesterday that it plans to “leverage” its relationship with the Department for Transport (DfT) in order to expand further.

Italian state railway Trenitalia announced yesterday that it had completed its takeover of C2C, which runs trains between Essex and London Fenchurch Street.

The company joins the French, German, Dutch and Chinese governments in holding major stakes in the British railway network.

Trenitalia is also bidding for the East Midlands and Intercity West Coast franchises in a joint venture with private transport giant Firs Group.

Trenitalia chief executive Barbara Morgante said: “I am pleased that we have been able to conclude this acquisition so rapidly, and we can now immediately start to concentrate on the day-to-day business of C2C.

“I am confident that the good relationship established with the DfT, demonstrated by our recent mutual co-operation during the change of control phase, will be strengthened and reinforced over the next years, and be leveraged in future common innovative projects in line with British passengers’ demand.”

But transport union TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes blasted: “The Tories have rigged the rail system in Britain against our own public ownership but not against us being owned by other states.

“The Tories don’t give a fig for the patriotism they preach and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hasn’t just given Trenitalia leverage, he’s handed them the crowbars and helped them break in to Britain’s lucrative rail market.”

C2C was previously owned by National Express, the company which walked away from the East Coast franchise in 2009 after failing to negotiate itself a less-costly deal.

Rail union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The announcement is another stage in the take-over of UK rail by foreign states while the Tories’ ideological hatred of the public sector prevents the British state ownership of our railway.

“Britain’s railways are being flogged off to European state-owned outfits who are queuing up to plunder our assets in the great rail rip off.”

Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer, whose organisation represents private operators, said: “Passengers and taxpayers benefit from the franchising system where rail companies from across the world bring new ideas and innovations to Britain’s railway.”

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