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MTR cuddles up to Network Rail

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HONG KONG subway operator MTR Corporation said last week it was developing ties with Network Rail's property and track maintenance arms, in an effort to improve its prospects of breaking into the British market.

It is especially keen to work with Network Rail in the south west, where MTR is bidding jointly with GNER for the new train operating franchise.

Later this month, Network Rail officials are due to travel to Hong Kong to discuss its property development strategy.

'We are talking to Network Rail about opportunities in a particular British franchise region, for example in property developments, ' said MTR international business director Francis Lung.

Network Rail is looking at a series of developments on land and air rights it owns, and has invited expressions of interest in developments at Euston, Victoria and Guildford stations (NCE 13 October 2005).

MTR believes it can help Network Rail on property development because has acquired strong skills in this area over the last 30 years.

It has used revenue from air rights property developments above its stations to pay for new lines in Hong Kong.

Alongside this MTR also wants to explore ways of better co-ordinating Network Rail's track maintenance with train operations. It hopes to cut disruption to services caused by over-running engineering work.

It also believes it could work out better ways of identifying track defects early on, to reduce damage to train wheels.

In Hong Kong MTR operates trains and track and has developed strong working relationships between train and track divisions.

Station staff are trained to listen for wheel fl ats on trains and are encouraged to report them on a special hot line.

This allows maintenance teams to quickly identify trains likely to damage track.

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