Plans originally floated in 2007 to sell the UK’s US$8.4bn construction cost Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS 1) will be put into action this summer after the HS 1 this week invited banks to provide financing to facilitate the sale, which is worth a reported US$2.9bn. The sale is expected to be complete within 12 months with proceeds used to start up a ‘green investment bank’ that will be used to invest purely in the low carbon sector.
Owners, London & Continental Railways (LCR) and the Department for Transport are looking to distribute a sales document before the 22nd June’s emergency budget.
As LCR is government owned the US$2.9bn will be a very small start in their attempt to claw back the UK’s US$242bn debt.
Potential buyers include Channel Tunnel operator, Groupe Eurotunnel, SNCF, Deutsche Bahn, and Network Rail, which owns most of Britain’s rail infrastructure and will see HS1 as a gap in its portfolio.
Director-general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Tom Foulkes, said in the UK press: “A £2bn (US$2.9bn) green investment bank (GIB) is certainly a good start. We have been calling for new thinking on how to unlock the long-term sources of funding needed to finance infrastructure for some time.
“However, as Infrastructure UK has acknowledged, the UK will need to invest £40bn to £50bn (US$58bn – US$72bn) per annum in infrastructure, so, with a starting fund of only £2bn (US$2.9bn), clearly there is some way to go.”