Abellio has held the franchise, which operates commuter, regional and inter-city services in eastern England since 2012 and following a competitive tender the company won a new contract to operate the network last August. Abellio has pledged to invest £1.4bn over the nine-year term of the new franchise, completely renewing the rolling stock fleet with new trains from Bombardier and Stadler.

“We are delighted to have reached agreement with Mitsui, fulfilling our long-standing objective of running the franchise as a 60:40 joint venture,” says Abellio UK managing director Mr Dominic Booth. “With the introduction of Mitsui’s knowledge and experience, we look forward to delivering significant improvements for Greater Anglia’s customers, including through the introduction of a brand new fleet.”

The sale of a stake in Greater Anglia marks Mitsui’s entry into Britain’s rail franchise market, although the company is a minority partner in a consortium with Abellio and JR East which is bidding for the West Midlands franchise.