A shortlist of potential operators for London’s new Crossrail service has been announced by Transport for London (TfL).

Arriva, Keolis/Go Ahead, MTR and National Express are all in the running to take charge of the route, which is due to welcome its first trains in May 2015 between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

An invitation to tender will now be issued in September and an operator appointed at the end of 2014.

Howard Smith, Crossrail director of operations, said: “We are a step closer to appointing an operator for Crossrail. As our population grows faster than forecast, the case for stable and sustained investment in London’s transport network has never been stronger.

“Crossrail will help cut journey times across the city and will achieve internationally recognised high standards of reliability, train frequency and customer service. Crossrail will make it easier for people travelling across the capital, helping create jobs and supporting growth and regeneration along the route.”