TRANSPORT group STAGECOACH yesterday lost the right to run a major UK train network in a shock move that hands control to a Chinese operator.
The South West Trains service will from August be partly run by MTR after it promised more seats and free wifi.
It means 75 per cent of UK railways will soon be run or partly run by foreign state-owned operators, leading to fears prices will shoot up.
South West Trains brings 100million passengers a year into and out of London Waterloo.
It is the only service to be run by the same operator since rail privatisation 21 years ago.
MTR will run the service with the UK’s FIRST GROUP for seven years.
But Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “It is a national scandal.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it was again a case of “a foreign state operator, in this case the Chinese state, which is set to make a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense”.
MTR and First Group have pledged to offer 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning and 30,000 more from the station each evening.
They are paying £2.6billion over seven years to run the route, and have pledged to invest £1.2billion in the network.
MTR, owned by the Hong Kong government, will also operate London’s Crossrail from the end of next year.
Stagecoach chief exec Martin Griffiths said it was “proud” to have run the franchise for 20 years but “disappointed” to lose it.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the move would lead to “modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service”.
ARRIVA’S BOOM AND BUS
GERMAN-owned rail and bus giant ARRIVA yesterday reported revenues up 5.2 per cent to £4.43billion last year.
The transport group said the surge had allowed it to invest £116million in its UK operations. Arriva is owned by and looks after all the foreign operations of DEUTSCHE BAHN.
Based in Sunderland, it operates across 14 European markets including Spain, Holland, Sweden, Poland and Portugal.
It runs London Overground and the Northern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales networks.