BR fights for control of Channel link: First test train hauled through tunnel - Friction with private sector partners revealed

BRITISH RAIL is at loggerheads with its private sector partners over plans for the high-speed Channel tunnel rail link, it has emerged.

On the day that the first purpose- built rolling stock made a test crossing through the tunnel, it emerged that although the Government wants responsibility for the pounds 3bn rail link project to be transferred to the private sector as quickly as possible, BR executives are fighting a rearguard action to retain maximum control over the management, design and financing.

The BR subsidiary responsible for taking the link forward, Union Railways, intends to appoint its own project manager next month even before the Government has finished considering the most appropriate form of private financing.

John Prideaux, chairman of Union Railways, also favours a flotation of the business as the best way of bringing in private finance - a move that would freeze out private sector firms interested in acting as sole promoters on the project, due to open in 2001.

The friction between Union Railways and the private sector is disclosed in confidential notes of a meeting last month attended by Mr Prideaux and private sector consultants already involved in development of the 68-mile route from Folkestone to central London. The consultants are Eurorail, a joint venture between Trafalgar House, GEC and BICC, and four firms of consulting and civil engineers - Ove Arup, Mott MacDonald, Scott Wilson and Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners.

According to the notes, Union Railways does not share the Government's objective of maximising private sector involvement at the earliest opportunity and does not believe the private sector will come up with much risk capital before autumn 1995 - when the hybrid Bill authorising the link is due to receive Royal Assent.

John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, will need to resolve the looming conflict between Union Railways and the private sector if the project is to move forward. Last Friday was the deadline for submissions on how private sector finance could best be harnessed to public funding of the project.

Mr MacGregor hopes to reach a decision as early as next month on the most appropriate form of private financing. But some consultants working with Union Railways believe this is hopelessly optimistic given the uncertainties surrounding the project.

It is still not known whether the link will terminate at an above- ground station at St Pancras or a much more expensive underground terminus at Kings Cross. Nor has much headway been made on deciding where to locate intermediate stations.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border