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10 private-financed rail proposals in frame for government backing

Rail stock

Ten privately-financed rail proposals are still in the running for government backing as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) call for ideas. 

A letter from rail minister Andrew Jones to Transport Committee chair Lilian Greenwood reveals that the department is engaged in conversations with backers of 10 proposals submitted as part of the market led proposal (MLP) competition which took place last year. 

The letter also reveals that 30 ideas were tabled, with the DfT rejecting two-thirds out of hand.

“The department received 30 responses to this call for ideas covering a wide range of railway enhancements,” Jones said in his letter. “My officials responded to promoters in December 2018 and continue to engage with 10 proposals.”

The DfT launched the call for ideas for market led proposals (MLPs) in March last year in a bid to build more privately financed rail schemes in the UK.

The nature of the 10 schemes has been kept under wraps, with the DfT saying that the submissions had been made in confidence and “disclosure at this stage may prejudice the commercial interests of the proposers”.

However, New Civil Engineer understands that proposed schemes may include a local authority project in the north east, the reopening of the Matlock to Buxton line which closed in the 1960s and a scheme in Canary Wharf.

The scheme was also open to technology improvements in the railway and therefore might include submissions from the likes of software developers Resonate and Siemens and Thales for digital railway projects.

The scheme has not been without controversy with one entrant, which was rejected in December last year, branding the government’s vision for MLP projects a “utopian dream”

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