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New operator for London railway

Transport for London has revealed a new operator for part of London's suburban railway system.

The North London Railway, currently operated by Silverlink Metro, will be run by Hong Kong firm MTR and construction firm Laing.

They will take over the North London Line in November under the new name London Overground.

It will combine with a revamped East London Line in 2010 to provide improved services ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Privatisation disaster

"This is the first part of the grand plan to transform the suburban railway network," said a TfL spokesman.

The second phase of the project will involve rebuilding the East London Tube Line in a £1bn upgrade.

The line - which runs from Shoreditch to New Cross - will be closed from December so that work can begin to extend the line north to Highbury and south to West Croydon and Clapham Junction.

Once tied into services on the London Overground, the new network will serve 20 of the capital's 33 boroughs with high-frequency metro style services.

TfL boast the new network will bring far-reaching improvements including more staff, new trains, a vastly upgraded service, and refurbished and new stations.

While it will retain control over fares and revenue, critics say it smacks of privatisation.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Workers, said: "However it is dressed up, this announcement means that the operations of London Underground are now being dragged down the same failed path of privatisation that has already so disastrously undermined the national railway network."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/06/19 10:09:40 GMT
1,216 Posts
MTRC joint venture wins London bid

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

MTR Corp (0066) has won its first contract outside the Greater China region, announcing a 50-50 joint venture with the UK's Laing Rail has been selected to operate an upgraded overground railway in east and north London for a minimum seven years.
"Winning this franchise is an important first step in the development in the MTR Corporation's European growth strategy," MTRC China and international business director Francis Lung Ka-kui said in a statement Tuesday.

"Going forward, we will continue to look for suitable opportunities to invest in both the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, using our asset- light approach."

Laing Rail is owned by London- based asset management company Henderson Group.

The partnership has 5 million (HK$77.48 million) invested in "assets," an MTRC spokesperson said, without elaborating. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The franchise - to be known as London Overground - will be overseen by Transport for London, the municipal government agency that runs the city's buses and underground trains. It will be worth 700 million over the life of the project, which contains an undisclosed management fee for MTRLaing, the joint-venture company.

Such fees typically constitute 3 to 5 percent of the total cost of the project.

Laing Rail currently operates Britain's Chiltern Railways, MTRC said.

The joint venture was picked over three other bidders to run the concession. MTRLaing's operation of the lines will sta
rt November 11, and will run for seven years, with an option for a two-year extension, according to an announcement from London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

MTRLaing's franchise will be the first part of the London transportation network - whose signage is based on the classic "Underground" logo - to use the new moniker "Overground." The system will act as a crucial link for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games," said MTRC, majority owned by the Hong Kong government.

Transport for London is spending 1 billion to upgrade and extend the East London Line and buy new trains. The line is scheduled to be reopened in 2010.

The agency intends to revive the fortunes of the services covered under the new franchise, many of which had been in longterm decline and seen as relatively marginal.

MTRLaing submitted its bid in October 2006 and was shortlisted in December along with a competing bid.

The London Rail Concession currently serves 60 stations over 60 route miles in the Greater London region, and carries about 23 million passengers per year. The routes comprise an inner suburban commuter network serving the western, northern and eastern extremities of the metropolitan area. "We are looking forward to applying our knowledge to improve the experience of London rail passengers and assisting Mayor Livingstone in realizing his vision to deliver noticeable improvements," Lung said.

Some of the service improvements already planned include the introduction of a more comprehensive ticketing system, a phased program of station upgrades, and the introduction of a fleet of new trains starting in 2009.

A 50-50 joint venture between MTRC and Swedish railway company SJ is currently bidding for concessions in Sweden and Denmark.

1,248 Posts
Hong Kong firm to run London's new overground system

Hong Kong firm to run London's new overground system

By Cliff Feltham
Published: 20 June 2007

A company with a near unbeatable record in train punctuality is to take over a huge slice of London's rail and train network.

Hong Kong based MTR, in partnership with the old established UK firm of John Laing, is to operate the capital's so-called London Overground system - stitching together the creaking North London Line and the soon to be modernised East London tube line.

But the deal has already run into fierce opposition from RMT, the largest rail union, claiming that switching ownership of the East London line to a mainline operator amounted to backdoor privatisation. The union warned of possible industrial action.

Mayor Ken Livingstone, the architect of the proposals, said that joining rail networks in the north and east ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games will "create a new rail artery around the city serving 20 London boroughs."

Around £1.4bn will be spent on new trains and refurbishing stations which in many cases have not experienced investment in decades. Around 400 new jobs will be created.

"This contract paves the way for radical revitalisation of London's rail services which have suffered from years of neglect and under investment," the mayor said.

"It will provide passengers with the staffing, safety and security and customer service they deserve."

The North London line, at present run by Silverlink, part of the quoted National Express group, takes in services between Richmond and Stratford; Euston and Watford Junction; Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction; and Gospel Oak to Barking.

The contract, awarded by Transport for London, takes effect in November and also covers services between Crystal Palace and Dalston Junction from 2010 when trains start rolling on the new, extended East London line.

There was fierce competition for the contract involving rival bids from Go Ahead and National Express, but transport experts say MTR and Laing represented a "dream ticket".

Laing, one of the country's leading developers of privately financed infrastructure projects, operates the award winning Chiltern Railways franchise operating services from Marylebone to the Midlands.

The service has an enviable record - around 95 per cent of the trains reach their destination on time. Yet this still falls short of the 99 per cent punctuality record claimed by MTR, which operates about 3,000 services a day carrying 2.4 million passengers in and around Hong Kong. This will be the first time MTR has operated outside China.

The row over the contract is expected to continue, with unions believing the line should have been left in the public sector.

147,882 Posts
MTR Corp wins 1.4 bln stg deal to run London's Crossrail

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Transport for London (TfL) said on Friday it had awarded a 1.4 billion pound ($2.4 billion) contract to run Britain's Crossrail rail service to MTR Corporation, the Hong Kong Metro operator.

The 15 billion pound project, due to open in 2018, will connect Heathrow airport west of London to the county of Essex in the east through 42 km of new tunnels in a bid to speed up connections and relieve pressure on London's crowded underground.

MTR, which together with Arriva already runs London's Overground metro service, has signed a contract for eight years with an option to extend to 10 years and is expected to employ around 1,100 staff with up to 850 new posts.

Train operators Arriva, National Express and a joint venture between Keolis and Go Ahead were the other shortlisted bidders, with the latter expressing its disappointment at the decision in a statement on Friday.

MTR will start running the first services from May 2015 between London's Liverpool Street railway station and Shenfield, Essex, with the central route under the capital opening in late 2018 and the full service in operation from December 2019.

($1 = 0.5848 British Pounds)

147,882 Posts
From local metro network to global rail giant: Hong Kong’s MTR sets its sights firmly overseas
The company’s ever-expanding international footprint, in many cases working as an underground operator for a fee, stretches from London and Stockholm to Melbourne and Sydney
June 16, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

MTR Corp, Hong Kong’s largest transportation stock, says international expansion and opportunities arising from China’s flagship regional infrastructure-building “Belt and Road Initiative” now form the core of its business plan.

Over the past 20 years, the organisation has grown substantially through listing and merger, says chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang.

“International expansion is the major business development for the MTR, a route we only started down in the past decade,” he said.

“In that time we have successfully exported our services and established a strong international reputation. We should be proud of MTR, as it is among the few local home-grown brands that can be successfully exported around the world,” he said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

MTR currently has active projects in Britain and Sydney, but it’s along the Belt and Road – the modern day Silk Road land and sea trading routes – that offers abundant opportunities for its skills and experitse.

There are 65 countries involved in the economic blueprint created by China, and railway and road building projects are likely to dominate, as the modern-day trade routes are created.

For the average Hongkonger, the letters ‘MTR’ simply mean swift, efficient trains that speed them daily under the city’s packed streets on 11 separate rail lines.

What they might not be aware of, is the company’s ever-expanding international footprint, in many cases working as an underground operator for a fee, as in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, and further afield in London, Melbourne, and Stockholm.

MTR now operates nearly 1,000 kilometres of track outside Hong Kong, not including the 455-km MTR Express in Sweden, which it operates with others.

It carried 1.8 billion overseas passengers last year, or 5.6 million daily, almost as many as the 1.9 billion it does at home in Hong Kong.

From solely a local rail operator in 1997, it has become a truly international transport giant with a 17,600-strong workforce in Hong Kong, and more than that – 20,000 staff – based in other countries around the globe.

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