The UK’s Transport for London (TfL) has shortlisted four bidders for the concession to operate the expanded London Overground network.
The winning bidder will operate the rail network from November 2016, when the existing contract with Lorol, a 50:50 joint venture between MTR and Arriva, expires.
The shortlisted bidders include Arriva Rail London, LoKeGo (a 51:49 joint venture of Keolis (UK) and Go-Ahead Holding), Metroline Rail (a subsidiary of Singapore-based public transport operator ComfortDelGro), and Chinese manufacturer MTR.
The concession is planned to run for seven years and five months, with an option for TfL to extend the contract by two years.
According to TfL, all documentation will be issued to the shortlisted bidders by the end of next month, with submission of bids expected by mid-October.
As part of this project, a series of improvements will be carried out, including additional walkthrough air-conditioned trains, more frequent services and modernised stations.
London Rail managing director Mike Brown said: "London Overground customers have experienced major improvements over recent years. We have taken neglected and often unstaffed stations and transformed them into modern and useful parts of the transport system, evidenced by a five-fold increase in passenger numbers.
"The new operator will play a key role in continuing that success and introducing further improvements, including new air-conditioned trains.
"In the meantime, we’re working to improve our services every day, especially on the new routes we’ve recently taken over, where services need to be brought up to the high standards seen elsewhere on London Overground."
Under the new London Overground operator concession, frequency on the North London line will also be increased by 25%, from eight to ten trains an hour.
The new concession will include all London Overground lines, including the West Anglia lines from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt, and Chingford, which, together with the Romford – Upminster branch, recently came under TfL control.
The contract will also include options for an all-night service at weekends from 2017, together with the proposed extension of Gospel Oak – Barking services to Barking Riverside.
The winning bidder will also be expected to deliver sustained improvements in performance levels.
A new fleet of 45 trains manufactured by Bombardier will be introduced on these lines from 2018 onwards.
The new trains will transform the service experienced by customers on these routes and support hundreds of UK jobs.
As part of the new deal, TfL will continue to be responsible for setting the fares and marketing the services and will retain the revenue generated by ticket sales to be reinvested in improving the transport network.
Image: The winning bidder will operate the London Overground network from November 2016. Photo: courtesy of Keolis.