PRIVATE FINANCE is being sought for construction of a £2.7bn fixed road and rail link across the Fehmarnbelt between Germany and Denmark.
When complete the crossing is expected to shave 140km and up to three hours off a road trip from Hamburg to Copenhagen. The link is likely to be in bored or immersed tube tunnel or on suspension or cable stayed bridge.
The project is being promoted by Fehmarnbelt Development Joint Venture (FDJV), which was set up by the German and Danish governments. It has called for expressions of interest from banks, developers and construction companies in a design build finance and operate scheme.
Private finance will be a new departure for the Danes.
Government-backed bonds were used to fund the Oresund link between Denmark and Sweden and the Great Belt crossing in western Denmark. The German government insisted on exploring private finance.
The project's biggest stumbling block is likely to be the lengthy return period for private investors.
FDJV managing director Peter Lundhus said: 'Anyone with a short-term profit in mind will be disappointed.'
He suggested the concession length would be comparable to Eurotunnel's 99-year contract for the Channel Tunnel.
Low traffic volumes are the reason for the expected long return period, according to Arup director Klaus FalbeHansen.
By 2010 the crossing is expected to be carrying 2.8M road vehicles a year, 10.8M tonnes of rail freight and 1.8M rail passengers.The crossing will also be in deeper water - 25m compared with 10m in the Oresund - making it more expensive to construct.