GEC joins Eurorail bid for projects

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The Independent Online
GEC yesterday joined forces with Trafalgar House and BICC to bid for work on big rail infrastructure projects including the Channel tunnel rail link, writes Michael Harrison.

The engineering and electronics combine led by Lord Weinstock is taking a one-third shareholding in Eurorail, the joint venture set up by Trafalgar and BICC in 1989 to partner British Rail on the Channel rail link.

The three companies also announced they had appointed Lord Parkinson as chairman of Eurorail. There is more than a tinge of irony in his appointment since, as Secretary of State for Transport, Cecil Parkinson rejected Eurorail's proposals for the Channel tunnel rail link, arguing they entailed unacceptable subsidies for the private sector.

Lord Parkinson said yesterday that Eurorail was determined to become a 'major force in private sector infrastructure rail developments'.

Other projects it would seek to work with the Government in developing were the upgrading of the West Coast mainline and the proposed CrossRail link between London's Paddington and Liverpool Street stations.

GEC's move follows the Government's pledge to open up more infrastructure projects to joint financing by the public and private sectors.

John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, is preparing to receive private sector proposals this week on how the private sector could best help to finance the 68-mile Channel tunnel rail link into London, which will cost an estimated pounds 3bn.