Italy is the latest foreign state to join the running to profit from British rail franchises.
Rail Minister Claire Perry trumpeted the first 11 companies to be awarded the government’s new fast-track passport to bid for lucrative franchises on the railways.
Italian state-owned Trenitalia is one of the 11 and is seeking to join the German, Dutch, French and Chinese state rail companies in acquiring a piece of Britain’s transport infrastructure.
Rail union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “With over three-quarters of Britain’s train operations owned by overseas state companies, the government has now decided to widen the ‘fast-track’ route to the great British rail rip-off by opening the door to Italian state operator Trenitalia.
“Along with the usual gang of failures and rip-off merchants we now face the prospect of rail services in Romford being plundered to subsidise rail services in Rome.
“That is a scandal which proves conclusively that this rotten government will happily have any state running our rail services as long as it isn’t the British state.”
Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: "Mick Cash is right. We need to bring back British Rail".