The Department of Transport has announced that MTR (the operator of the Hong Kong metro network) and FirstGroup will take over the running of the South West Trains franchise in August 2017.

No mention of anything specific to the Shepperton line in the official announcement, but does one dare hope that there can only be improvement?

Some links below ...

South West Trains: Hong Kong firm MTR to help run rail franchise - BBC News

South West Trains is the only franchise to have remained in the same hands since privatisation 21 years ago. It is the flagship of the Stagecoach Group.

In August it will change hands, right in the middle of a massive rebuilding of Waterloo - by far the busiest station in Britain. The timing is awkward.

In come First Group, the operator of Great Western, in partnership with Hong Kong-owned MTR, which will also run Crossrail trains.

This really will be a changing of the guard at Britain's second biggest franchise, for which bidders were also required to submit options for driver-only operation.

Stagecoach loses South West Trains franchise to FirstGroup and MTR - Financial Times

Under the new franchise, FirstGroup will have to provide far smaller bonds to the Department for Transport to guarantee its own adherence to the contract than other franchisees have paid in recent contract awards. The high level of these and other bonds had become a significant deterrent to would-be franchisees.

'Praise Jesus': Commuters react as South West Trains operator loses... - Evening Standard

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