MTR To Operate Crossrail Concession


We wrote recently about how Crossrail would operate and now we know who – it was announced this morning that MTR have been selected as the successful bidder for the £1.4bn, eight year (extendable to ten) contract.

Tendering for the Crossrail concession began in 2013, with the shortlist of bidders announced in June. That list comprised Arriva Crossrail Limited, Keolis/Go Ahead, MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Limited and National Express Group PLC.

Of those bidders, Arriva and MTR were always likely to be the favourites. LOROL, the company who operate London Overground services, is a joint venture between MTR and Arriva, and thus both operators could claim significant successful experience and knowledge of working with TfL to deliver successful suburban metro services. This likely proved particularly important for, as we pointed out in our article on how Crossrail would operate, the new line bears significant similarities, both operationally and contractually, to the Overground. Both had also thus worked with Bombardier on the rollout of new Rolling Stock on the Overground, something that will be necessary again on Crossrail where Bombardier were selected as the new rolling stock supplier.

MTR’s success then is not particularly surprising. Established in 1975 to operate the Hong Kong Metro, the company went public in 2000, although the Hong Kong Government remains the majority share holder. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, with operating contracts for metro services in Sweden (Stockholm), Australia (Melbourne) and China (Shenzhen) as well as the aforementioned Overground here in the UK.

That UK experience is likely to be vital, as the date for taking over the first of the services which form this Concession is not far away – services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield transfer to the new operator on 31st May 2015.

After many years of delivering to target (and beyond) on the Overground, however, MTR will likely be feeling confident that they can deliver here.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.