Dutch-Japanese Partners Win UK Railway Bid

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. joint venture / ˈdʒɔɪntˈvɛn tʃər / (n) – a business or project of different companies working together

    The bridge-building project was a joint venture among several construction companies.

  2. contractor / kənˈtræk tər / (n) – any person or company that is paid to work for a certain period of time at an agreed price

    The train system renews its contractor every ten years.

  3. bid / bɪd / (v) – to offer to do something for a certain amount

    Several companies will bid to become the new subway’s contractor.

  4. franchise / ˈfræn tʃaɪz / (n) – authority given by a company for an outsider to operate using its name and services

    Bidders compete against each other’s offers to win a franchise.

  5. consortium / kənˈsɔr ʃi əm / (n) – a combination of several people or companies working together

    The consortium that won the bid was made up of five different construction companies.


Read the text below.

JREM Train, a joint venture between Japanese companies JR East and Mitsui & Co Ltd, is now a contractor for one of UK’s largest train systems.

Last August, JREM Train teamed up with European company Abellio to bid for the West Midlands rail franchise. Abellio is a transport company servicing the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands, while JR East is a big name in the Asian train industry. West Midlands is JR East’s first European venture. Meanwhile, Mitsui has done business in 65 countries and is involved in diverse sectors like transportation, infrastructure, energy, IT, and communications.

The consortium formed by the three companies, named West Midlands Trains Ltd, won the franchise against the train’s previous contractor.

The new contractor plans to implement some upgrades to the train system. Using a £1-billion budget, West Midlands Trains Ltd will be improving station parking spaces and waiting areas. It will also add more train seats and install Wi-Fi and charging stations. It also plans to offer additional services, including Sunday operations, and will invest in feasibility studies for new stations in West Midlands. The new franchise will run from December 2017 to March 2026.

JREM Train adds to the many Japanese companies that have done business in the UK and other parts of Europe. Japanese companies like Trend Micro, Konica Minolta, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries have established businesses in the continent.

Japan is one of Europe’s biggest trading partners. Japan and Europe have a partnership agreement that allows both regions to benefit from importing and exporting. Among the products they trade are motor vehicles, machineries, and medical tools.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How can companies from different cultures work well together? Discuss.
• Which company is more equipped to improve the UK train system: Abellio, a European company that has operated in the UK before, or JR East, a company that has been dealing with trains for a long time?

Discussion B

• What industries can successfully expand their business abroad (e.g. oil, food)?
• What are the common characteristics of companies that succeed internationally? Explain.