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Serco-Abellio (formerly Serco-NedRailways) is a joint venture between Serco and Abellio, each owning 50%. The joint venture formed and owns one train operating company in Northern England. It has operated the Merseyrail franchise since July 2003 and operated the Northern Rail franchise from December 2004 until March 2016.

Joint venture
IndustryTrain operating company
Area served
Northern England
OwnerSerco (50%)
Abellio (50%)

Serco-Abellio also lodged unsuccessful bids for the Wales & Borders, West Midlands and Tyne & Wear Metro franchises.

Serco is a UK public listed company providing outsourced public sector services internationally, including the operation of public transport systems. Abellio is a subsidiary of the Dutch state railway company, Nederlandse Spoorwegen.



In April 2003, Serco-NedRailways was awarded the Merseyrail franchise for 25 years from July 2003.[1][2]

Northern RailEdit

In July 2004, Serco-NedRailways was awarded the Northern Rail franchise for six years and nine months from December 2004 with a two-year extension subject to performance targets being achieved.[3][4][5]

In May 2010, the Department for Transport confirmed that Northern Rail had met the performance targets and the franchise was extended for two years until September 2013.[6][7][8] In May 2012, the Department for Transport granted Northern Rail a six-month extension until March 2014.[9][10][11] In March 2014, the Secretary of State for Transport announced a direct award until 4 February 2016, later extended to 31 March 2016.[12] The franchise was taken over by Arriva trading as Northern on 1 April 2016.[13]



The joint venture was also shortlisted for a number of other rail franchises:

Partners operating independentlyEdit

In 2014, it was confirmed that each partner bid independently for the 2016 Northern franchise. Only Abellio made the shortlist of three bidders. The joint venture will continue to operate the Merseyrail franchise until its 2028 conclusion.[19][20]

Abellio was shortlisted for the London Overground, South Central, Greater Anglia, InterCity West Coast, Essex Thameside and Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchises in its own right.

In April 2015, Serco, in its own right, commenced operating the Caledonian Sleeper franchise, while Abellio ScotRail took over the ScotRail franchise.[21][22]

Abellio managed to keep the Greater Anglia franchise and will operate it until 2025.[23]

In December 2017, West Midlands Trains, a joint venture with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui in which Abellio owns 70%, commenced operating the West Midlands franchise.


  1. ^ Serco joint venture selected as preferred bidder for £3.6 billion Merseyrail Electric network concession Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine Serco 23 April 2003
  2. ^ Merseyrail franchise goes Dutch The Telegraph 24 April 2003
  3. ^ "Serco-NedRailways Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Northern Rail Franchise" (PDF) (Press release). Strategic Rail Authority. 1 July 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  4. ^ Rail Magazine (492): 14, 21 July 2004 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Juliette Jowit (17 October 2004). "Dutch railway to share new Northern franchise". The Observer.
  6. ^ "Northern Secures Two Year Franchise Extension" (Press release). Northern Rail. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  7. ^ Serco Northern Rail venture awarded £530m two year franchise extension Serco 13 May 2010
  8. ^ Northern Secures Two Year Franchise Extension Northern Rail 13 May 2010
  9. ^ "Northern Rail granted franchise continuation". 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  10. ^ Franchise Continuation for Northern Rail Northern Rail 9 May 2012
  11. ^ Contract News Update 14 Serco 14 May 2012
  12. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers" Secretary of State for Transport statement 26 March 2013
  13. ^ Transformation of rail in the north Northern 27 February 2015
  14. ^ Completed acquisition by Arriva plc of the Wales and Borders Rail franchise Archived 12 November 2012 at the UK Government Web Archive Office of Fair Trading 16 March 2004
  15. ^ ScotRail franchise bidders reveal plans for network's future Herald Scotland 22 March 2003
  16. ^ AFX News Limited / Thomson Financial (21 June 2007). "UK govt awards West Midlands rail franchise to Go-Ahead Group UPDATE". Forbes. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011.
  17. ^ Foreign bids for Metro contract BBC News 2 February 2009
  18. ^ NedRailways shortlisted for Tyne & Wear Metro franchise Abellio 6 June 2009
  19. ^ Serco to divorce from Northern Rail partner Daily Telegraph 18 June 2014
  20. ^ "North of England rail franchise bidders announced". BBC News Online. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2015. The companies competing for the Northern franchise are Arriva, Govia and Abellio, which has held the contract in a joint venture with Serco since 2004.
  21. ^ Serco wins franchise for Caledonian sleeper train service BBC News 28 May 2014
  22. ^ Dutch firms wins ScotRail franchise from FirstGroup BBC News 8 October 2014
  23. ^