Norfolk

Abellio deal: Japanese firm Mitsui completes 40% Greater Anglia sale

Abellio train at Ipswich station
Image caption Mitsui is the first Japanese company to have taken a stake in a British train operating company

The sale of 40% of Abellio's Greater Anglian rail franchise to Japanese firm Mitsui has been completed after Department of Transport (Dft) approval.

The line has been run by Greater Anglia since 2012 and the company renewed the franchise in August.

The deal fulfils the "long-standing objective of running the franchise as a 60:40 joint venture", according to Abellio MD Dominic Booth.

The rail union RMT has criticised the sale of Britain's rail network.

'Dodgy car boot sale'

News of the sale first emerged in January, shortly after the sale of the c2c franchise to Trenitalia.

The RMT said it stands by comments made in January by the union's general secretary, Mick Cash, who warned that Britain's rail network was being sold off like it was a "dodgy car boot sale".

"The checks and balances for both passengers and the taxpayer, which the DfT claims are enshrined in its multi-million pound franchising programme, are clearly lacking when the winning bidder can simply walk away, share out its responsibilities and choose its replacement whenever it sees fit," he said.

Abellio, which will still be in overall control of the franchise, said the deal will result in a £1.4bn investment over nine years, with new trains and average journey times reduced by 10%.

Mitsui, which has been contacted by the BBC, are the first Japanese company to have taken a stake in a British train operator and will "have a presence on the board".

A DfT spokesperson said: "This was a commercial decision for Abellio. The government approved this partial sale once both parties satisfied us that passengers would benefit from it."

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