High Speed 1

UK: The Office of Rail & Road has published its periodic review of Channel Tunnel Rail Link concessionaire HS1 Ltd’s charges and maintenance plans for the five years starting on April 1 2020.

HS1 Ltd has a 30-year concession to manage the 108 km high speed line between London and the Channel Tunnel until December 31 2040. ORR reviews HS1 Ltd’s funding every five years, and assesses whether the concessionaire’s plans are consistent with its general duties regarding the operation, maintenance, renewal and replacement of the infrastructure when viewed with a 40-year horizon.

ORR has determined that the total cost of operating and maintaining the line should be £363·5m over the five years, marginally higher than HS1 Ltd had proposed and reflecting the increasing amount of work needed as the line gets older.

The regulator says passenger and freight train operators should collectively pay £25·9m/year to fund replacement and renewals. This is an increase on current charges, but 32% less than requested by HS1 Ltd, as ORR’s analysis found that this would be sufficient to ensure the assets are sustained.

‘High Speed 1 is a valuable public asset and our role is to provide independent assurance that the line will be kept in good condition over the long-term at the lowest possible cost’, said ORR Chief Executive John Larkinson on January 7. ‘This is important to make sure that train operators and, in turn, passengers and freight users get a good deal now but not at the expense of future generations.’

Welcoming the publication of ORR’s final determination, a HS1 Ltd spokesperson said ‘continued investment in maintenance and renewals is required to ensure the future sustainability of High Speed 1 infrastructure’, and ‘we now look forward to delivering world-leading high speed rail’.