Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui has bought a 40% stake in UK's Greater Anglia train service franchise from operator Abellio.

The franchise was renewed in 2016, taking majority operator Abelio's contract up to 2025. The Dutch company said on 17 January that its deal with Mitsui marks a first for a Japanese company investing in a UK train services operating company.

However, Mitsui is one among many when it comes to foreign operators of the UK's rail network. Earlier in January, Italy's Trenitalia took over National Express' Greater London to Essex franchise after the UK-based operator put it up for sale. France's Keolis and Germany's Deutsche Bahn also operate train services in the UK.

In 2016, Mitsui and Abellio put a joint bid with the UK Department for Transport for the West Midlands franchise, a decision on which is expected in June.

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio, said: "With the introduction of Mitsui's knowledge and experience, we look forward to delivering significant improvements for Greater Anglia's customers."

Abellio also said the deal will result in a £1.4bn investment spread over nine years, with the introduction of new trains and average journey times reduced by 10%.

Commenting on the decision, a spokesperson for the DfT said: "This sale is a commercial decision for Abellio. The government will only approve this partial sale once both parties have satisfied us that passengers will benefit from it."