The train at platform 1 could be from Hong Kong

The owner of Hong Kong’s super-efficient metro system is poised to make bids for two rail projects in the UK, including the Thameslink franchise currently operated by FirstGroup.

MTR, which is majority owned by the Hong Kong government, is also working on plans to bid for C2C, which is run by National Express.

It is understood that the UK Department for Transport is due to invite bids for the London commuter franchises before Christmas in what is expected to be highly-competitive race for the busy passenger routes.

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MTR won a seven-year concession to operate the London Overground network in a joint venture with Deutsche Bahn in 2007. Since then, the suburban line, which passes through 30 London boroughs, has become the most punctual in the UK.

In Hong Kong, one of the most-populated cities in the world, MTR achieves nearly 100 per cent punctuality, while most services offer access to free wifi and 3G mobile phone signals.

The firm is involved in building and operating metro lines in the bustling Chinese cities of Beijing and Shenzhen.