LONDON Transport for London (TfL) said on Friday it had awarded a 1.4 billion pound ($2.4 billion) contract to run Britain's Crossrail rail service to MTR Corporation, the Hong Kong Metro operator.
The 15 billion pound project, due to open in 2018, will connect Heathrow airport west of London to the county of Essex in the east through 42 km of new tunnels in a bid to speed up connections and relieve pressure on London's crowded underground.
MTR, which together with Arriva already runs London's Overground metro service, has signed a contract for eight years with an option to extend to 10 years and is expected to employ around 1,100 staff with up to 850 new posts.
Train operators Arriva, National Express and a joint venture between Keolis and Go Ahead were the other shortlisted bidders, with the latter expressing its disappointment at the decision in a statement on Friday.
MTR will start running the first services from May 2015 between London's Liverpool Street railway station and Shenfield, Essex, with the central route under the capital opening in late 2018 and the full service in operation from December 2019.
($1 = 0.5848 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Neil Maidment, Editing by Paul Sandle)