Arriva, Stagecoach and a joint venture between First and Trenitalia UK Ltd have been shortlisted for the East Midlands franchise.
The Department for Transport made the announcement today (March 1).
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “A flourishing rail network brings real growth and prosperity to the region it serves.
“Network Rail is working on improvements which, by 2019, will enable the next East Midlands franchise to deliver more carriages and faster journeys over the whole route, including almost twice as many seats into London St Pancras in the peak hours.”
In a statement, DfT said that although the current franchise, operated by East Midlands Trains Limited, is due to end on March 4 2018, the Secretary of State has used his powers to extend it further by up to a year.