Twelve companies have prequalified for two major new franchises, the shadow Strategic Rail Authority announced this week.
Contenders for the Thameslink franchise are Connex, First Group/NS Reizigers, GB Group, GNER, Go Ahead/Via GTI, National Express, Prism, SJ International and Stagecoach.
The Wales & Borders franchise shortlist includes Arriva, Connex, First Group, GB, Group 4, Prism, Serco, and Via GTI.
All companies now have 60 days to prepare detailed proposals. Franchises will be awarded next year.