South West Trains has lost out to a rival bidder to run the south western rail franchise for the next seven years.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced on Monday morning that First MTR South Western Trains Ltd had been awarded the contract.
The next franchise is said to include earlier first and later last trains, including between London and Woking, Twickenham, Epsom, Reading, Dorking and Hounslow.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Following on from the announcement on the start of the South Eastern Franchise consultation, this deal is more great news for rail passengers.
“First MTR South Western Trains Limited will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the south western franchise area, from Windsor and Woking, to Shepperton and Kingston and Reading and Epsom and Waterloo.
“We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.”
First MTR South Western Ltd is a collaboration between transport operator FirstGroup and MTR, which operates the Hong Kong metro.
The group will start its seven-year tenure of the south western network on August 20 this year, and will oversee £1.2 billion of investment.
Tim O'Toole, FirstGroup chief executive, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with MTR has been selected by the DfT to run the south western rail franchise, a key part of the country’s railway network which millions of people rely on every day.
"Our successful bid will deliver the tangible improvements that customers and stakeholders have told us they want from this franchise.
"Passengers can look forward to new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options.”
Jeremy Long, CEO of European business at MTR Corporation, said: “MTR is known across the world for the excellent quality of its rail services, and we look forward to working with FirstGroup to provide a best-in-class travel experience for passengers in London and the South West.
"Together we will deliver a major programme of upgrades, including improvements to both rail services and customer experience, for passengers travelling across the South Western network.”
First MTR says it will deliver passengers with better information throughout their journey, on-board trains, on platforms and through a new mobile phone application, including live information on seating availability and crowding levels.
Stagecoach Group, which operates South West Trains, said it is "disappointed" after being unsuccessful in its bid.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group chief executive, said: "We are proud to have operated the network under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years and we are disappointed that we have been unsuccessful in our bid for the new franchise.
Mr Griffiths added: "Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network.
"That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished.
"I would like to thank all of our employees and partners who have been involved in delivering our vision for the railway in the south west over the past two decades, as well as those who contributed to our strong bid for the new franchise.
"I know they share our disappointment in the result. Nevertheless, we will continue to work hard on our part to deliver a professional service and meet our obligations in the final months of our current franchise."
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