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CTRL plums for Kvaerner and Miller

KVAERNER AND Miller were named last month as preferred bidders for three of the most complex sections of Channel Tunnel Rail Link phase one (now called Section 1). Formal contracts are expected to be signed early this month once the CTRL rescue plan is finally agreed.

Kvaerner confirmed it had signed a letter of intent with Union Railways for the 17km long, pounds140M contract 430, which will take the link through Ashford. It said the letter included instructions to proceed with preliminary work for this, the longest contract on the project, expected to be completed by summer 2002.

Work will include construction of high speed rail track, partly in cut and cover tunnels, through the centre of Ashford and links to the town's international station.

Miller's Eurolink group has contracts 410 and 350. Contract 410 is the pounds80M, 3.2km North Downs Tunnel. This joins pounds30M contract 350, the 1.26km Medway viaduct. The group's other members are Dumez-GTM of France and Beton und Monierbau of Austria.

The Alfred McAlpine/Amec joint venture has the pounds70M contract to build a spur from Section 1 to existing track feeding into Waterloo.

Details have also emerged of government plans to effectively hand over valuable development sites alongside the CTRL to Railtrack in return for underwriting the project.

Railtrack has been given first option to buy the property portfolio of CTRL developer London & Continental Railways once the link is complete, assuming it takes up the option to buy the second phase. The land includes sites at King's Cross and Stratford in London.

The details of the option emerged after publication of a circular seeking shareholder approval for the purchase of Section 1 between the Channel Tunnel and Fawkham junction in Kent, which Railtrack has promised to buy as part of the CTRL rescue package agreed in June.

The circular also confirms the company's option to buy Section 2 between north Kent and London St Pancras and gives more details about how the project will be financed, confirming that Section 1 is estimated to cost pounds1.7bn.

Shortlists for CTRL contracts 420 and 440 - the last to be tendered - were also announced last month. Five groups are battling for contract 420 between Boxley and Lenham Heath. They are Taylor Woodrow/Sir Robert McAlpine; Bouygues; Track Link (Mowlem/ Holzmann/Besix); Hochtief/ Norwest Holst; and John Laing. The five bidders for contract 440 between Ashford and Cheriton are Costain/Skanska/Amey; Tarmac; Kier-Nuttall; CMT Rail Link (Christiani & Nielsen/Morrison/ Tilbury Douglas); and Balfour Beatty.

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