Four groups bid to operate Crossrail

Marion Dakers
TRANSPORT for London has shortlisted four groups for the contract to run the Crossrail service between east and west London.

Arriva, Go Ahead and its long-standing rail partner Keolis, MTR and National Express have all qualified to submit bids in September, TfL said yesterday. All four are established rail operators in the UK.

Two of the firms – Go Ahead and National Express – are listed in London and run at least one British rail franchise each. Hong Kong-based MTR has operated the London Overground with Arriva, a subsidiary of state-owned Deutsche Bahn, since 2007.

Keolis is 70 per cent owned by SNCF, the French national rail company, and operates services across Europe.

The winning bidder will take over the eastern portion of the route, running from Liverpool Street to Shenfield and currently operated in the Greater Anglia franchise, from May 2015.

The full 37-station Crossrail route, stretching to Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, will be open in 2019.

Officials are running a separate procurement process for new trains to be used on the route, which are expected to be ready by 2017.

Four pairs of giant boring machines are drilling 27 miles of new tunnel for the project.

Howard Smith, Crossrail’s director of operations, said in a statement: “We are a step closer to appointing an operator for Crossrail. As our population grows faster than forecast, the case for stable and sustained investment in London’s transport network has never been stronger.”