BIDDERS hoping to run rail services in south Wales from next year are expected to submit their final offers by Thursday.

The Wales and Borders franchise will be looking for a new provider after Arriva Trains decided not to renew its control of the service.

The firm had been in charge of the service since 2003 but decided to withdraw its renew its contract, which will run out in late 2018.

French joint venture KeolisAmey, Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation, and the Abellio Group, which runs bus and rail networks across Europe, are in the running to take over the 15-year contract.

The Welsh Government are expected to announce the successful bidder early next year.

Economy and transport secretary Ken Skates said: “This will be the Welsh Government’s first rail service procurement and we fully intend to create a service with passengers at its heart - one that benefits the whole of Wales.

“From rolling stock to frequency of services, Metros to profit thresholds, the final tender puts the Welsh passenger first and provides the blueprint for what these three world class rail operators are bidding to provide Wales.”

The minister added: “Detailed discussions with the shortlisted potential operators have only served to reinforce our optimism that the next service will see big improvements and I look forward to seeing how the detailed tenders tackle our ambitious requirements before making a decision on the successful operator in Spring 2018.”