FirstGroup, UK train and bus operator, and MTR Corporation (UK), Hong Kong metro operator, will establish a joint venture to bid for the South Western rail franchise, following the assent of the Department for Transport. FirstGroup will own 70% of the joint venture, with MTR the remaining 30%.
“We are pleased that we will be partnering with MTR in a joint venture to bid for the South Western rail franchise, for which we were shortlisted in February 2016. We have extensive expertise of running commuter, inter-urban, regional and long distance services – such as those that make up the South Western franchise – and a strong track record in delivering passenger growth. MTR run successful suburban and commuter railways; their knowledge from running London Overground and TfL Rail on behalf of Transport for London will add further depth and understanding to an important component of this franchise”, said Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director. “Together, FirstGroup and MTR will develop an innovative and value for money proposal that will deliver better connectivity and significant improvements for South Western customers. Our bid will keep people moving and communities prospering across the region”, added.
MTR run the current London Overground concession in a joint venture with Arriva. This operation serves Clapham Junction, the busiest station on the network and a key hub for the South Western franchise. In addition, they have been selected as the operator of the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line service and run TfL Rail services from London Liverpool Street station.
Stagecoach’s South West Trains is currently operating the South Western rail franchise.