The UK’s first high speed rail line has been sold for £2.1bn to a consortium made up of two Canadian pension funds.
Transport secretary Philip Hammond announced that the sale of the concession to operate High Speed 1 line for 30 years to Borealis Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan was “great news for taxpayers and rail passengers alike”.
The consortium will now be responsible for operating the 108km line that line links St Pancras International to the Channel Tunnel.
It will also manage the stations on it, which includes international stations at Stratford, Ashford and Ebbsfleet.
Announcing the sale, Hammond said that the sale value “exceeds the highest expectations for the sale”, which had been expected to raise around £1.5bn when the government began the competition in June 2010. He added that the sale “will make a welcome contribution to reducing the deficit”, however it is also expected that some of the money will go towards the government’s plans for a Green Investment Bank.
Borealis Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan beat three other bids. These included a consortium called GB Speedrail, in which Eurotunnel, the owner and operator of the cross-Channel rail tunnel, was a member.
The other bidders included a consortium made up of the BT pension fund and German insurer Allianz, and one made up of investment bank Morgan Stanley, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the infrastructure unit of venture capitalist 3i.
The performance of the new operator of the line will be monitored by the Office of Rail Regulation.