Transport for London (TfL) announced Friday it had awarded a 1.4 billion pounds (2.39 billion U.S. dollars) contract to operate London's Crossrail services to MTR Corporation, the Hong Kong metro operator.
MTR, which already runs London's Overground metro service, singed the new contract for eight years with an option to extend to 10 years.
MTR is expected to employ around 1,100 staff with up to 850 new posts, creating many hundreds of jobs for local people. This would include almost 400 drivers and over 50 apprenticeships for people from communities along the route, said TfL.
The Crossrail project, costing about 15 billion pounds to build, will connect Heathrow airport west of London to the county of Essex in the east through 42 kilometers of new tunnels.
Crossrail is due to open in 2018. The huge project is expected to reduce passenger overcrowding on underground trains in central London and to reduce cross-London journey times.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "I am delighted that we can now announce the new operator of this landmark railway, bringing it one step closer to welcoming passengers aboard."
"Crossrail will revolutionise east-west transit in the capital, making London an even more attractive place to visit and invest."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This is great news for passengers across the capital and marks a significant milestone in the project."
"Crossrail will provide a better and faster service for millions of commuters and will help create up to 30,000 additional jobs in central London by 2026. Crossrail is a part of our long-term economic plan and one of the many rail infrastructure projects benefiting from record levels of Government investment." (1 pound = 1.71 U.S. dollars)