The firm that runs Japan’s bullet train could be part of a consortium running rail services through Northampton if it wins the tender for the line next year.
The Department for Transport has announced three companies are vying to take over the West Midlands franchise currently operated by London Midland’s owners, Govia, when the current contract ends in October 2017.
The Government says it expects the next operator of the franchise to provide “significantly better journeys” for passengers, and the bids will have to demonstrate how the firm would tackle overcrowding, reduce delays and bring about benefits such as free on-board Wi-Fi.
Among the three shortlisted bids to run the trains Dutch firm Abelio has teamed up with the East Japan Railway Company, which runs the super-fast Asian bullet trains, to make a consortium bid.
They are up against current operators Govia and Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: “The West Midlands franchise serves both commuters and long-distance passengers and we are confident these companies will create high-quality bids that can deliver better journeys for all.
“Today’s announcement marks a key step forward in giving passengers improved services across the region and beyond.”
The new operator is due to take over the franchise in October 2017, with the contract award expected to be made in June 2017.
The West Midlands franchise covers rail services to Northampton and Long Buckby as well as London Euston, Milton Keynes, Birmingham New Street, Hereford, Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool Lime Street.
Govia has operate the line since 2007.