ANOTHER British light rail scheme moved a step closer on December 17, when Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council invited expressions of interest in the South Hampshire Rapid Transit Project (RG 12.99 p815). Linking Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, and running in an immersed tube tunnel under Portsmouth Harbour, the 14 km line is costed at £150m.

The promoters plan to issue competitive tenders to design, build, finance and operate the route, with a minimum operating period of 25 years. Formal bidding is expected to start in February 2001, subject to the approval of a Transport & Works Order by the Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions. Three groups will be selected for consultation on the contract structure, the length of the concession, financing and the scope of services and infrastructure to be provided. n