The Journey to Becoming an Internationally Recognised Leader in Rail

Since its inception, MTR Corporation has shared a rich history of working closely with UK rail specialists to create the company it is today. From the outset, established, experienced operators and engineers from the UK (primarily from London Underground) worked closely with MTR’s Management team to lead intensive training with local colleagues, putting their experience to work using new practices. Many of those trained in the early years later became Directors at MTR.

Over time, MTR gradually moved away from British supply but the ethos of how to operate the railway and the fundamental safety elements remained. One of the cornerstones that contributed to MTR’s success was the merging of essential rail principles with new, innovative practices.

MTR’s International Business strategy gradually saw the company expand into China, Europe, the UK and Australia, bringing practices that were now well-established in Hong Kong to these franchises and joint ventures – including the highest levels of customer service, punctuality and profitability.

The key dates shared below focus primarily on MTR’s development in Hong Kong and the UK. For further details on MTR’s worldwide presence, please see MTR Corporation.


The Government of Hong Kong enlisted British transport consultants to develop proposals for a new rapid transport rail system for the territory.


The Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) was established with a mission to construct and operate an urban metro system to meet Hong Kong’s public transport requirements.


After leading the building work of 15 new stations, MTRC oversaw the opening and operation of its first railway line in Hong Kong.


The company was re-established as the MTR Corporation Limited in June 2000 and its shares were listed on Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange in October 2000.


MTR expands operations to the UK, becoming a joint venture partner in London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL), holding the concession from November 2007 – 2016.


MTR was awarded the Crossrail Train Operating Concession in the UK, commencing operations in May 2015 as TfL Rail, to later become the Elizabeth line.


MTR began operating South Western Railway, one of the largest UK franchises, as a joint venture with First Group from August 2017.


MTR was listed among Fortune’s “Change the World” top 50 global institutions.


London’s Elizabeth line opens in May 2022, transforming travel across the capital.

“The original team of suppliers, consultants, MTR people and early British experts who came to Hong Kong – built the foundation for what would become the best metro in the world. Two generations later, MTR have brought many international best practices back to the UK. UK experts played a significant role in laying the foundations for MTR and have now come full circle, bringing that expertise back to the UK, based on years of experience gained.”

Phil Gaffney, Senior Advisor Crossrail Limited (formerly Managing Director Operations and Business Development – MTR Corporation)

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