WORK STARTS this month to double peak-hour capacity at London’s Marylebone station, as part of the first investment package to be funded by a UK train operating franchisee through a privately-financed special purpose vehicle.

Chiltern Railways’ Evergreen II project was launched on December 20 by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling and Laing Rail Managing Director Adrian Shooter.

Under the design, build, finance & transfer deal, Carillion Construction Ltd will deliver infrastructure works worth £50m using a bank facility provided by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp Europe Ltd. On completion, Network Rail will buy the assets for a predetermined sum, which will then be added to NR’s Regulatory Asset Base.

Chiltern will pay NR a total of £80m in additional track access charges during the remainder of its 20-year franchise. The extra £30m is to cover project development and management charges, NR’s incremental operating and maintenance costs, and any contingencies.

Key to the project is construction of two additional platforms at Marylebone, on the site of DMU servicing tracks that will be made redundant by the completion this summer of a new depot near Wembley. This will give Chiltern the capability to schedule 20 trains into the terminus during the morning peak hour, and 20 out in the evening, compared with 10 at present.

Other work includes track realignment at Beaconsfield to raise line speeds, and signalling improvements at various locations to boost capacity and reliability. The project is due to be completed by the December 2006 timetable change.