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Rail franchise bidders revealed

The government has revealed the list of companies bidding to run the Thameslink and Essex Thameside rail franchises.

MTR Corporation, Dutch company Abellio, FirstGroup and National Express are all vying for the 15-year Essex Thameside franchise, currently run by c2c, which will start in May 2013.

Abellio is also among the bidders for the Thameslink contract along with FirstGroup, Stagecoach, MTR and the Go-Ahead Group. This seven-year franchise will start in September 2013.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers welcomed the "strong interest" shown in the competitions by the rail industry.

She said:

"The new Thameslink operator will help oversee the completion of the Thameslink project which will enable a near doubling of capacity into and through central London in the peak periods.

"The operator of Essex Thameside services will be expected to support economic growth along the Thames Gateway."