Courtesy Crossrail

Hong Kong company MTR awarded contract to run Crossrail train services

Published: 26th July 2014

Mass Transit Railway to bring excellence to London’s new rail system

Transport for London (TfL) has awarded the train operating contract for its Crossrail service to the Hong Kong based MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Limited (MTR). The deal is estimated to be worth £1.4 billion over eight years and there is an option for a two year extension in the deal.

Mass Transit Railway (MTR) will operate the new Crossrail services between Reading, Heathrow and through London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood employing around 1,100 staff including up to 850 new jobs. MTR requires around 400 train drivers and will sponsor 50 apprenticeships for people from communities along the route.

From 2019 when the full timetable is running, Crossrail will increase rail based transport in the capital by 10%. The intention is that it will also provide the best ‘passenger experience’ as it is now called, on European metro services achieving internationally recognised high standards of reliability, train frequency and customer service.

Crossrail has been sponsored and funded by the Department for Transport and TfL and will become part of the latter’s extensive and intensively operated network. Crossrail’s stations will be integrated with London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and National Rail stations.

They said:

Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director London Underground and London Rail, said: “Appointing an operator is a huge step towards the new railway coming to London. The decision to appoint MTR was reached after a thorough and competitive procurement process and we look forward to working with them to transform rail services in the capital.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As hardworking 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.

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.

“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….

MTR will start running the stopping services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield from 31 May 2015 currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia using the trains currently being used. From that date, stations MTR serve will for the first time be staffed from first to last train and trains and stations will be ‘cleaned and refreshed’. Disabled passengers requiring assistance will be able to turn up and go, with the pre-booked assistance no longer required.

MTR will have to work with TfL, Bombardier and Crossrail Limited to obtain safety approval for the new trains being built by Bombardier, the Canadian company. The target is to have them running by 2017.

MTR is one of the shareholders in the London Overground service so are known to TfL and these services, operated by German owned Arriva Trains are hugely popular and reliable scoring the highest levels of customer satisfaction. The unsuccessful shortlisted bidders were Arriva Crossrail Limited, National Express Group PLC and Keolis/Go Ahead.

Last of 250,000-piece tunnel jigsaw fabricated

The Crossrail project will use an estimated 250,000 concrete tunnel segments to line the tunnels which are now 82% complete and the final segment has now been made at the specially built Crossrail factory in Chatham, Kent. This has produced 110,000 tunnel segments for Crossrail’s 12km long eastern twin tunnels between east London and Farringdon.

Similar segments for the Royal Oak to Paddington western tunnels were manufactured at Old Oak Common in west London while pieces for the Thames Tunnel between Plumstead and North Woolwich were manufactured in Ireland.

The Chatham factory operated 24 hours a day, five days per week and on average manufactured 330 segments per day when production was in full swing with each segment weighing 3.4 tonnes.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project with an immense supply chain spread across the country. The team at Chatham have done a superb job supplying our eastern tunnels with concrete segments.”

Crossrail worked closely with the Port of London Authority (PLA), who shared their marine expertise to support the supply of tunnel segments by river.

James Trimmer, PLA’s director of planning and environment said: “Crossrail has really made the most of the river, both for shifting tunnelling spoil away and getting essential materials like the tunnel linings to site. Their use of the river has taken the tonnage of freight moved on the Thames to record levels.”

Meanwhile, Crossrail above the ground…..

The Canary Wharf Group plc has completed a striking timber lattice roof above Canary Wharf Crossrail station the culmination of five years’ work. The roof covers a new roof garden and Canary Wharf Group’s four story, 115,000 sq ft retail and leisure development which will open in May 2015.

Space for the station was made by creating a 250m long and 30m wide watertight dam in the waters of North Dock and the station box was then built ‘top down,’ 28 metres below the water surface to create the ticket hall and platform levels.

External Links

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community! is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.