BUS and train company Arriva has acquired a German rail operator in a deal worth £43.4m.

The national group, which is based in Sunderland and operates bus and train services in the North-East, has bought a stake of nearly 80 per cent in Regentalbahn AG, which operates rail passenger services in the south German state of Bavaria, as well as in the federal states of Thuringia and Saxony. The purchase has already been cleared by the German competition authorities.

Regentalbahn also operates rail services into the Czech Republic in co-operation with the Czech State Railway.

The German company has about 400 employees and owns 71 passenger trains.

Arriva entered the German market for the first time in April when it acquired the rail company Prignitzer Eisenbahn Gruppe, which runs rail services in Berlin and the Ruhr region.