British public transport provider Go-Ahead Group is to become the first private train operator to run services in Norway.
The company, which operates the GTR and Southeastern franchises in the UK in partnership with Keolis, has been awarded the Oslo South package by Norway’s rail authority.
Go-Ahead Nordic will run a variety of long-distance and suburban services in Sørlandsbanen, Arendalsbanen, and Jærbanen.
The eight-year contract, which includes an optional two-year extension, starts in December 2019.
This is the first train operating contract to be let by the Norwegian Railway Directorate (Jernbanedirektoratet) in line with EU rules requiring member states to open up domestic passenger railways to competition.
Jernbanedirektoratet said the competition between the three final bidders was extremely close, with the final decision coming down to ‘marginal differences’ in the bids.
As well as its operations in Norway and the UK, Go-Ahead also has four rail contracts in Germany.
David Brown, chief executive officer at Go-Ahead said: “We are delighted to be given this opportunity to deliver Norway’s first contracted rail services. This is part of our targeted international strategy.
“We look forward to working with the Norwegian authorities to bring our international rail expertise and our customer knowledge together to deliver reliable and comfortable local services.”
Magnus Hedin, director of Go-Ahead Nordic, added: “Our focus is on customer satisfaction, reliability and local decisions taken with our partners.
“We want to be a local operator who understands Norwegian transport needs and the local Norwegian customers, while benefiting from extensive experience in the UK.”