German contract for UK rail company
A UK rail company is to serve millions of German commuters after capturing two contracts from the country's biggest transport operator.
The deal is a rare reversal of the trend that has seen Deutsche Bahn's Arriva division run services in Wales, as well as Chiltern Railways and CrossCountry.
It also marks another step in the recovery in fortunes for the rail arm of National Express, which was stripped of the East Coast mainline in 2009.
The company, which also runs transport services in North America, Spain and Morocco, is still in the running for three other franchises in Germany, which is Europe's largest rail market at twice the size of the UK.
The contracts are in Germany's most populous region, North Rhine-Westphalia, and involve a regional express service between Rheine-Munster-Cologne-Krefeld and a Bonn-Cologne-Wuppertal stopping service. They carry around 18 million passengers a year.
National Express will start operating the 15-year contract in December 2015, after first acquiring 36 new electric trains on behalf of the local authorities. The contracts will generate revenues of around 1.6 billion euro (£1.4 billion).
Chief executive Dean Finch said: "I'm particularly pleased that our success in running the UK's best performing franchise has been recognised by the German authorities.
"We look forward to maintaining these high standards and serving the people of North Rhine-Westphalia for many years to come."