THE BRITISH government selected London & Continental Railways in February 1996 to build and operate High Speed 1 (then called the Channel Tunnel Rail Link), and to own and operate the UK arm of Eurostar.

LCR's shareholders are Arup, Bechtel, Halcrow and Systra, transport operators National Express Group and SNCF, electricity supply company EDF, and investment bank UBS. The £5·2bn project is funded through a combination of government-guaranteed bonds and grants, bank debt and structured finance.

Responsibility for the overall delivery of HS1 lies with two LCR subsidiaries, Union Railways (South) Ltd for Section 1 and Union Railways (North) Ltd for Section 2.

The project was designed and managed by Rail Link Engineering, a consortium of LCR shareholders Arup, Bechtel, Halcrow and Systra. RLE carried out design and procurement, and managed the contractors who built the railway to the specifications of client companies Union Railways (South) and (North).

LCR subsidiary CTRL (UK) Ltd acts as client for the operation and maintenance of the line, which will be undertaken by Network Rail.

In June 1996 LCR took over European Passenger Services, holder of British Rail's interests in Eurostar. Renamed Eurostar (UK) Ltd, the subsidiary is now operated on LCR's behalf by the InterCapital & Regional Rail Ltd consortium of National Express Group (40%), SNCF (35%), SNCB (15%) and British Airways (10%).