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The Independent Online
Three of Britain's leading bus groups yesterday strengthened their presence in the rail market after being selected to operate further passenger train franchises. Great Western Holdings, in which FirstBus has a stake, was chosen as the preferred bidder for North West Regional Railways. The Go Ahead group was selected along with an Italian partner, Via, to operate Thameslink and MTL, the Merseyside bus operator, was named as the preferred bidder for Regional Railways North East.

Great Western Holdings is the management-led buyout which won the franchise for Great Western Trains last year. FirstBus also operates the Great Eastern Franchise. Go Ahead is part of the consortium which operates Thames Trains and MTL was awarded the Merseyrail franchise last year.