RAILTRACK SHOULD operate the track and tunnels for the £3bn Crossrail route through central London even if it does not build or finance it, it has been suggested.
In plans for the new privately financed project put forward last week by consultants Arup and Maunsell, it is suggested that Railtrack's involvement would improve safety by minimising the number of interfaces at each end of the tunnel.
The Crossrail proposals were announced last week (NCE last week). The consultants are now lobbying hard to get enabling legislation for the project included in this autumn's Queen's Speech.
The plan would see the project designed, built, financed and operated by private contractors and leased back to Railtrack.
Operators would charge Railtrack an access charge and use this revenue to finance debt and fund maintenance work.
The consultants argue that under this structure the scheme could be kick started while Railtrack's finances are stretched.
Railtrack has to pay £580M in compensation to train operators for disruption caused by rerailing following the Hatfield train crash.
Arup and Maunsell insist that services feeding into the tunnel could help to regenerate rundown areas of east and west London. They hope to win backing for the project from employers and local authorities expecting to benefit from being close to the route.