Chinese firm MTR announced as new operator with FirstGroup of South West Trains
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that Hong Kong based MTR was to enter a joint venture with British firm FirstGroup to run South West Trains saying it would deliver faster, cleaner services across southern England.
He awarded them the franchise for the next seven years after rejecting Stagecoach’s application for a new contract.
Industry sources said MRT –which has the Chinese Government as a major shareholder – won because of its impressive record operating Hong Kong metro.
The Hong Kong train company is just the latest in a list of state-owned companies buying into the British rail system.
Once again the Government have refused to consider the public sector option for a major rail franchise
Mick Cash – RMT general secretary
Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, which already owns Chiltern Railways, recently agreed a £1.59bn deal to buy Arriva.
Keolis – 70 per cent owned by French state rail firm SNCF – runs a series of franchises including London Midland, Thameslink and Great Northern, and Dutch state-owned transport firm Abellio runs Abellio Greater Anglia and – with controversial British outsourcing giant Serco – Merseyrail and Northern Rail,
Furious transport unions accused the Department of Transport of letting foreign firm “make a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense”.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says it would deliver faster and cleaner services
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, claimed ministers should have considered running the franchise.
He said: “Once again the Government have refused to consider the public sector option for a major rail franchise.
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“Instead it’s a foreign state operator, in this case the Chinese state, which is set to make a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense.”
Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: “They don’t deliver better services, they deliver higher fares for passengers who are milked as cash cows by the franchisee.”
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, claimed ministers should have considered running the franchise Commuting chaos from around the world Thu, July 9, 2015
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The South-West franchise covers suburban trains to and from London’s Waterloo station and intercity services to cities including Bristol and Exeter.
Stagecoach was refused a new contract after running 1,700 trains per day through 20 stations for more than 20 years.
Mr Grayling said the new operator would invest £1.2 billion in the infrastructure, creating 22,000 extra seats into Waterloo each morning and 30,000 every evening.
He said: “We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century."