UK rail minister Jo Johnson has announced that the Department for Transport has published the invitation to tender for the next East Midlands franchise.
The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has hailed a "landmark moment" in the future development of his country as plans of how £5 billion will be spent to transform its railways have been revealed.
Further details for the next franchise and the South West Metro will be shared "at the earliest possible opportunity" following the standstill period.
The joint venture - 70 per cent First Group, 30 per cent Trenitalia - has pulled out to focus on its bid for the West Coast Partnership franchise, according to a spokesperson.
British rail operator FirstGroup has rejected a takeover bid from US equity firm Apollo Management.
April 3, or "Black Tuesday" as French media have labelled it, marked the start of three months of rolling nationwide strikes, which will see SNCF staff strike two days in every five until June 28.
Great Western Railway (GWR) is to take over the operation of the Heathrow Express rail service later this year.
Spain's national rail operator, Renfe, and the Italian open access operator NTV have received the necessary paperwork from the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) to bid for future passenger rail franchises.
UK transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that Virgin Trains has been given a short, direct award for the West Coast franchise.
Abellio, Arriva, Stagecoach and a FirstGroup/Trenitalia joint venture have been shortlisted for the new East Midlands rail franchise.