March 20, 2018

British government seeks private investment in rail network

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Heathrow Express trains at London Paddington. Heathrow Express trains at London Paddington.

BRITAIN’s Department for Transport (DfT) has invited promotors and investors to come forward with financially-credible projects to build new lines or enhance the rail network, starting with a new southern rail link to London Heathrow Airport.


The government wants to increase investment in the rail network, while relieving the burden on taxpayers and rail users, by taking advantage of new ideas, such as the Heathrow proposal, and create “real contestability” in the market.

 

The so-called market-led proposals (MLP) could come from ports, train operators, property developers, investors, or consortia. Examples of MLPs include a new line to serve a new housing estate, reopening a line, and installing a traffic management system.

Heathrow Airport is already served by London Underground’s Piccadilly Line and a main line connection to London Paddington. The government plans to build a second main line link to the Great Western Main Line to provide a service to Slough and Reading. The DfT and Heathrow Airport are now inviting ideas for a southern link.

Heathrow Southern Railway Ltd (HSRL), an independent venture, has already put forward a proposal to construct a 13km line from Heathrow to Staines to allow the introduction of a service from Heathrow to Richmond, Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, and direct services from Guildford and Woking via Heathrow to London Paddington. HSRL says the link would be used by 33,000 passengers/day and could be completed by 2025.

The DfT will hold a rail investment opportunity event in May to promote MLPs. The government expects first proposals to be submitted in June and July, and to provide an initial response in the autumn.

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