ITALY became the latest European country to get a slice of the British railway pie yesterday when National Express announced it had sold its C2C franchise to state-owned Trenitalia for £70 million.
The sale of the London to Essex franchise sees Italy join Germany, Holland and France in taking over British rail services to make profits and subsidise their own stateowned rail operations.
Now Trenitalia, the Netherlands’ Abellio, France’s Keolis and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn — owner of Arriva — operate a whopping 70 per cent of Britain’s rail services. Rail workers quickly condemned the latest sale.
Transport union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the Italian operator had been “given an open door to plunder passengers and the public purse to subsidise rail services in their own country.
“The government should be hanging their heads in shame and this latest scandal ramps up the case for public ownership of our rail network.
“Britain’s railways are being sold off to European state-owned outfits with the profits from our fares — among the highest in Europe — subsidising operations abroad.
“Privatisation has failed passengers and the public by hitting their pockets and providing poor service and left foreign state train operators laughing all the way to the bank.
“The case for public ownership of UK rail to end this racket is now overwhelming.”
National Express boss Dean Finch boasted that C2C was Britain’s “best performing franchise,” but the deal provided “opportunities for all concerned.”
The move is expected to be complete in three to four weeks if given the green light by the Department for Transport.
Rail union TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: “Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is not a man of his word. Like his fellow Tory Brexiteers he promised a vote to leave Europe would be a vote to take back control of Britain.
“But today we receive the news that another European government’s rail company is to get a foothold in the UK rail market.
“Grayling refuses to take Southern into public control or let London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office take it over, while at the same time now permitting Italy’s public to own our railways.”