Chinese firm MTR to help run South West Trains franchise

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The franchise will run from August for seven years

A Chinese company is to help operate one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, the government has announced.

MTR has been awarded the franchise to run South West Trains (SWT) with First Group for seven years from August.

First MTR will take over from Stagecoach, which currently runs SWT services across south west England to and from London Waterloo.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said China would make “a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense”.

90 new trains

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the new operators would oversee a £1.2bn investment to improve journeys for millions of train passengers.

It said the new franchise would add 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo for every morning peak and 30,000 extra seats each evening peak.

A fleet of 90 new trains has also been promised, providing more space for passengers on Reading, Windsor and London routes.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling says the deal “marks a new era in joined up working between train operators and Network Rail”.

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