High-speed rail link sold to Canadian consortium

5 Nov 10
The UK’s first and only high-speed rail line has been sold to a Canadian firm, the government has confirmed today.

By David Williams

5 November 2010

The UK’s first and only high-speed rail line has been sold to a Canadian firm, the government has confirmed today.

A consortium made up of Borealis Infrastructure and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan paid £2.1bn to run High Speed 1 – the link between the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International station and the Channel Tunnel.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said that the move would help reduce the UK’s public debt, calling it ‘great news for taxpayers and rail passengers alike’.

He said the £2.1bn figure exceeded all expectations, and hoped the new owners would now be able to open up new routes to European cities not currently directly accessible from London.

Hammond added: ‘It is a big vote of confidence in UK Plc, and a big vote of market confidence in the future of high-speed rail.’

The firm will now run the line, including its stations at St Pancras, Stratford, Ashford and Ebbsfleet, for 30 years, when it will revert to public ownership. The consortium will be able to charge train operators for access to the track, but will be obliged to maintain the line. The contract will be policed by the Office of Rail Regulation.

The transport secretary will continue to own the infrastructure of the railway and the freehold to the land around it.

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