"We were delighted to be awarded the operating concession for Crossrail. It’s a hugely exciting new train line that will making travelling across London easier than ever before. Not only will it make people’s lives easier, it will also transform travel habits of Londoners, encouraging people to re-think where they travel and explore new areas."
Today SmartRail Editor, Luke Upton speaks to Jeremy Long, CEO European Business at MTR Corporation, one of the most interesting and progressive organisations in rail today. MTR was established in 1975 as the Mass Transit Railway Corporation with a mission to construct and operate an urban metro system to meet the transport needs of Hong Kong. In June 2000 it was re-established as MTR Corporation Ltd and in October 2000 was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Since then MTR has expanded from its home base in Hong Kong to include international rail business in Stockholm, Beijing, Shenzen and Melbourne. In 2014 it was confirmed that MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Limited, have been awarded the Crossrail Train Operating Concession. The service will commence in phases from 2015 to 2019.
Luke Upton, SmartRail World Editor (LU): Thanks fo the time today, as CEO, European Business could you give us a little introduction into your role at MTR Corporation?
Jeremy Long (JL): Not a problem Luke, as Chief Executive Officer of the European Business of MTR Corporation, my role is to oversee all of our ventures in Europe which include the running of MTR’s London Overground joint venture with Deutsche Bahn, MTR’s Metro concession in Stockholm and the forth coming intercity service in Sweden. I also manage all franchise bids and other business development activity, including the recent successful bid for Crossrail. MTR is growing both at home in Hong Kong and here in Europe, we are therefore always looking for potential attractive opportunities to invest, tender and engage – whether it be operations, infrastructure, stations, rolling stock or other businesses.
LU: What are some of the major challenges in the continued development of CBTC?
JL: CBTC will make railways safer and more efficient. But its development is very much an ongoing process, the introduction of new state of the art technology into operational train lines is complex and involves extensive collaboration and exceptional planning. Beyond the logistics, another challenge is addressing individual reservations that see some reluctant to move away from old systems.
LU: Thanks and MTR Corporation has won the Crossrail operating concession, set to run from May 2015. As a UK railway executive, just how exciting a prospect is this?
JL: We were delighted to be awarded the operating concession for Crossrail. It’s a hugely exciting new train line that will making travelling across London easier than ever before. Not only will it make people’s lives easier, it will also transform travel habits of Londoners, encouraging people to re-think where they travel and explore new areas. We are committed to bringing the very best of MTR to Crossrail, and are working hand-in-hand with TfL to establish a new milestone standard of operational reliability and customer experience for metro railways in Europe.
LU: And what are some of the learnings and insights that you’ve gained from managing London Overground that you can bring to working with Crossrail?
JL: Our work on the London Overground has demonstrated how crucial high levels of punctuality and reliability are for achieving customer satisfaction and a truly successful, transformative service. As a result TfL’s vision for London Overground and their investment in infrastructure, rolling stock, and stations, annual ridership on London Overground has now reached 135 million – up five-fold since we took over the concession. Crucially, punctuality is over 96% and, according to independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus, during 2013 services achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 91%, among the highest of any franchise or concession in the UK.
We will bring the same level of rigour and commitment to our operations on Crossrail, and our experience of working closely with TfL to deliver a service on London Overground that integrates efficiently with the London Underground network will be invaluable.
LU: Thanks very much Jeremy, looking forward to hearing more at the CBTC World Congress in November in London.
Jeremy Long will be an expert speaker at the upcoming 5th Annual CBTC World Congress (4-6th November, London). Now in its 5th year, the Congress is now a key part of any signalling professional’s calendar. Attended annually by over 300 metro network experts, this year's edition also includes SmartMetro where neworks of the future are created.