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JR East, Abellio clinch UK rail franchise

Win marks Japanese company's first job running trains overseas

TOKYO -- East Japan Railway, Dutch rail operator Abellio and Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. won a license to operate the U.K.'s West Midlands rail network starting in December, it was announced Thursday, marking JR East's first time running trains abroad.

The consortium will operate a roughly 900km network -- which serves around 74 million riders annually, including commuter links to London and a long-distance line between Liverpool and the capital -- for about 10 years. The bid price was not disclosed.

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