PRIVATE FINANCE is being sought for the construction of a $3.7bn fixed road and rail link across the Fehmarnbelt between Germany and Denmark.
When complete, the new crossing will shave 140km and up to three hours off a road trip from Hamburg to Copenhagen.
The project is being promoted by Fehmarnbelt Development Joint Venture (FDJV), 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 0resund link between Denmark and Sweden and the Great Belt crossing in western Denmark.
The German government has insisted on exploring a private finance option.
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 held for the Channel Tunnel.
Relatively low traffic volumes are behind the expected long return period, according to Arup director Klaus FalbeHansen.
By 2010 the crossing is expected to carry 2.8M road vehicles a year, 10.8Mt of rail freight and 1.8M rail passengers.
The crossing will also be in deeper water - 25m compared with 10m in the 0resund - making it more expensive to construct.