P&O to bid for rail link: Ferry operator joins race for contract to connect Channel tunnel with London

THE MAIN cross-Channel ferry operator, P&O, is setting up a consortium to build and own the pounds 2.7bn high-speed Channel tunnel rail link between London and the Kent coast.

The shipping to construction group is one of six consortia expected to apply for the contract along the 68-mile route between Cheriton, Kent and St Pancras in London.

Potential bidders have until 25 April to make a formal commitment to the project. The project is expected to be completed in seven years and provide a privately owned service running trains at up to 140 miles an hour.

P&O is already known to be backing a separate pounds 37m venture to build a rail station for the link at Stratford, east London.

But this is the first time that the group, chaired by Lord Sterling, has been associated with the main project.

The P&O consortium is understood to be led by its construction subsidiary, Bovis, although the make-up of the consortium has not yet been finalised.

Both P&O and Bovis remain tight-lipped about the plan, but a spokesman admitted: 'We are reviewing the situation'.

It has also emerged that SG Warburg, the merchant bank, and Bechtel, the big American construction group, have secretly joined a rival consortium fronted by Ove Arup, the consulting engineer.

Arup has never revealed the identity of its consortium members, despite being the first publicly to commit itself to the project. Ron Marsh, Arup's head of business development, said: 'This is a highly confidential matter, although I expect a further announcement will be made shortly.'

The third consortium planning to bid is Eurorail, whose members include General Electric Company and the construction groups Trafalgar House and BICC.

There is also growing speculation about strong overseas interest. A German consortium is being put together by Hochtief, the civil engineering group, and bids from Italy and France are expected.

The idea is to narrow down the contenders to a shortlist of four by June. They will then be invited to make formal tenders by the end of this year. The winner will be selected by mid-1995.

The four finalists will be asked to state the total cost of the project and how much cash funding they will require from the Government.

The winners will also receive assets worth pounds 800m - the bulk accounted for by St Pancras and Waterloo International stations, rolling stock and 25 acres of land near Kings Cross.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam