Virgin to join bid for Tunnel link

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The Independent Online
VIRGIN Group is to join one of the consortia bidding to build the pounds 2.7bn fast rail link between London's St Pancras station and the Channel tunnel, writes Mary Fagan.

The company is expected to announce the agreement - thought to be with a group including SG Warburg, Bechtel and Ove Arup - later this week.

Virgin wants to run passenger rail services through the tunnel. European Passenger Services, the company set up by British Rail to run services in partnership with rail companies in France and Germany, will be handed to the consortium that succeeds in winning the contract.

Virgin plans to offer the same style of service as on its airline, including video entertainment, and there may be lower-fare incentives for frequent travellers or free rail miles.

Last week the Government shortlisted four of nine groups which will compete to build the link. The consortium that Virgin is expected to join is London and Continental, with Arup, the engineers; Warburg, the merchant bank; Bechtel, the US engineering group; builder Blue Circle; engineers Halcrow; and National Express, the transport group.