Transport giant the Go-Ahead group has said it is “disappointed” to have lost out to a Hong Kong firm in the race to win the £1.4 billion Crossrail contract.
MTR Corporation were announcing as the firm to run the cross-London Crossrail services, also beating pre-qualified bidders Sunderland-based Arriva and National Express, which will be for eight years with an option to extend to 10 years.
MTR also operates the London Overground concession with Arriva UK Trains as well as running the metro system in Hong Kong.
Announcing the deal, Transport for London (TfL) said MTR was expected to employ around 1,100 staff with up to 850 new roles, creating many hundreds of jobs for local people.
This will include some 400 drivers and more than 50 apprenticeships for people from communities along the route.
In August 2013 four bidders – Arriva Crossrail Limited, MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Limited, National Express Group PLC and Keolis/Go Ahead were invited to respond to the Invitation to Tender.
Following the contract announcement, Go-Ahead voiced its disappointment.
A statement issued by the Newcastle-headquartered firm said: “The Go-Ahead Group is disappointed not to have been awarded Transport for London’s Crossrail franchise for which it submitted a joint bid with Keolis (65% Keolis/35% Go-Ahead).
“In May, Go-Ahead was awarded the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise by the Department for Transport and is working hard to prepare for the start of the contract in September 2014.
“This important and complex franchise will deliver customer improvements and value for money for taxpayers. Go-Ahead’s bid team continues to work on other upcoming opportunities.”
The £14.5bn Crossrail project is a massive undertaking which will see trains running from as far west of the capital as Reading in Berkshire and as far east as Shenfield in Essex, with links to south London as well.
Due to fully open by the end of 2019, Crossrail will see the transformation of a number of overcrowded central London Tube stations and drastically improve cross-London journey times.
It is estimated that Crossrail will also support the equivalent of 55,000 full-time jobs around the UK. The construction of Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities across the country with 97% of companies in Crossrail’s supply chain based in the UK.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is great news for passengers across the capital and marks a significant milestone in the project.
Crossrail will provide a better and faster service for millions of commuters and will help create up to 30,000 additional jobs in central London by 2026.”
He went on: “Crossrail is a part of our long-term economic plan and one of the many rail infrastructure projects benefitting from record levels of Government investment.
“Together with Thameslink, investment in rail in the North and a major electrification programme, we are creating jobs, boosting business and generating lasting economic growth across the UK.”
MTR will start running the services from the end of May 2015 between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, taking over the stopping services currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. They will be using the existing trains that currently operate on the route.
New trains will begin entering service with in 2017. The route through Canary Wharf, the City and the West End will open in late 2018, with the full route running from late 2019.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “As hard-working engineers beaver away underneath our feet on the final construction of Crossrail’s tunnels, we are putting the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together above ground.
“I am delighted that we can now announce the new operator of this landmark railway, bringing it one step closer to welcoming passengers aboard.”
He went on: “Crossrail will revolutionise east-west transit in the capital, making London an even more attractive place to visit and invest.
“As has been the trend throughout this project, many hundreds of additional jobs will be created for local people.”