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Thames Water wants slice of Underground action

THAMES WATER has entered the race to run London Underground's deep Tube lines.

NCE has learned that the water company is to join the Balfour Beatty/Adtranz/WS Atkins consortium Metronet. The consortium is one of the leading bidders for London Underground's two 25-30 year concessions to maintain its deep lines.

Metronet managing director Rod Hoare said on Monday: 'We are likely to announce this week that Thames Water is joining us. Thames will put up equity and bring great experience in asset management.'

City analysts supported the deal. One said: 'This makes perfect sense. Thames needs to invest in projects as part of its core strategy to expand. Thames can bring a lot to the party. They run water through London infrastructure everyday. That has to be scheduled and it is not so dissimilar [to operating the Tube network].'

Thames would not comment on the story. News of its interest in the Tube network came as Thames revealed it had failed in its bid to acquire a 42% share in Chilean water company Emos. Analysts say Thames is targeting South America and will be disappointed to lose out to French water company LDE.

NCE has also discovered that two more water companies are considering entering the race to run the deep underground lines.

An Anglian Water spokeswoman said the company had registered an interest in the project. Asked whether it was planning to join a consortium, she said this was being discussed as the company waited for the Government to reveal the terms of any concession.

A city source claimed that Hyder was also thought to be interested in joining a consortium to bid for the deep line concessions. However, a Hyder spokeswoman said the company was not speaking to anybody 'at the moment'.

Other consortia expected to lead the bidding for the deep lines include:

Tuberail (Brown & Root/Tarmac/Amec/Alstom)

Mowlem/Fluor Daniel/Alcatel/ Bombardier

Bechtel/Gibb

Jarvis/Stagecoach

Capital Lines, a company formed by former LU managers.

Kvaerner and Serco are also reported to be interested.

An LU spokeswoman said release of the prequalification documents for the deep line concessions was 'imminent'. Railtrack is expected to take over the third concession, running surface and shallow subsurface lines.

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