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Pension funds back Abellio East Anglia order for Stadler trainsets

05 Oct 2016

UK: Contracts worth more than £600m for Stadler to supply 378 multiple-unit cars for the next East Anglia franchise were signed by Abellio UK and leasing company Rock Rail on October 4.

In conjunction with a £900m order for 665 Bombardier EMU cars which was signed with Angel Trains on September 30, this finalises what Abellio UK Managing Director Dominic Booth said was ‘the largest-ever privately-funded train procurement in the UK’. The 1 043 vehicles are scheduled to enter service between spring 2019 and autumn 2020, completely replacing the fleet used under the current Greater Anglia franchise.

Stadler’s first major order for UK main line passenger rolling stock covers 58 Flirt UK trainsets to be built in Switzerland. There will be 10 12-car 25 kV 50 Hz inter-city EMUs for London – Norwich services with 628 standard and 80 first class seats plus a bistro, and 10 12-car EMUs for the London – Stansted Airport route with 710 standard class only seats. The 24 four-car and 14 three-car electro-diesel units for standard class only regional services will have the diesel engines in a mid-train power module car.

The 160 km/h air-conditioned articulated multiple-units will have a floor height of 960 mm, 2+2 seating, wi-fi, power points, real-time passenger information and regenerative braking.

Funding is being led by Rock Rail and SL Capital Partners, with additional co-investment equity provided by the GLIL infrastructure investment joint venture of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and London Pensions Fund Authority. Debt was arranged by DC Advisory from Aviva, Sun Life, Barings Asset Management, Legal & General, Standard Life Investments and the European Investment Bank, which is providing a 28-year £60m loan using its European Fund for Strategic Investments guarantee for the first time in the UK.  Legal advice for the two rolling stock orders was provided by Bond Dickinson.

‘We are delighted to close our second rolling stock financing, especially in what have been volatile markets post-Brexit’, said Rock Rail founding partner Mark Swindell, who added he was ‘delighted to be able to work with new institutional investors, demonstrating that Rock Rail has become attractive to investors looking to invest in the UK’. He said ‘the highly-competitive long-term nature of funding provided by our blue chip institutional investors delivers best value for money to the East Anglia passengers and taxpayer over the life of the trains.’

Rock Rail entered the rail market with a £200m deal to finance 25 six-car Siemens dual-voltage EMUs for Govia Thameslink Railway’s Moorgate route which was signed in February. It is now bidding to fund more rolling stock, as well as structuring an approach to funding stations, depots and assets managed by Network Rail.

Dominic Helmsley, head of SL Capital Infrastructure, said the Standard Life Investments subsidiary was ‘particularly excited’ to sign the Abellio deal, adding ‘we see significant further potential to provide competitive funding for new rolling stock across the UK rail network’.