UK: Transport Secretary Philip Hammond invited bids to buy HS1 Ltd on June 21. Currently a wholly -owned subsidiary of the state-owned London & Continental Railways Ltd, HS1 Ltd has a 30 year concession to manage the 109 km high speed line between London and the Channel Tunnel.

The Secretary of State for Transport will continue to own the land and infrastructure, while HS1 Ltd will have the right to sell access to the track and stations on a commercial basis, monitored by the Office of Rail Regulation. Hammond said the winning bidder would be 'incentivised to attract new operators serving new routes.' A further concession could be let when the 30-year period expires.

Selling HS1 Ltd is 'part of the government's approach to making our national assets, and every taxpayer pound, work harder', said Hammond. 'The government does not have to run everything directly, we need to take prompt action where private enterprise can provide both a better deal and a superior service to the public.' The sale is being managed on behalf of the government by London & Continental Railways Ltd, advised by UBS. Responses to the pre-qualification questionnaire must be submitted by midday on July 9.