01:30PM, Friday 03 August 2018
The Windsor Link Railway (WLR) has formed a consortium with a global investor as it looks to push its privately-funded railway plan to the next stage.
Meridiam SAS, one of Europe’s largest infrastructure investment funds, has pledged its support to the project with the consortium submitting a market-led proposal to the Government on Tuesday.
In March, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling invited third parties to come forward with plans to help deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.
Phase one of the £370million WLR project could see the construction of a new rail tunnel in Windsor which would connect the South Western and Great Western lines. The second phase would provide access to Heathrow.
Former Royal Borough councillor George Bathurst, managing director and founder of the WLR, said: “If accepted, this will be the first new railway not requiring net funding from Government over its lifetime, since the days of original rail companies.
“This market-led approach, being promoted by the Secretary of State, is the future of our railways and will ultimately replace the current franchise system, leading to lower fares and more reliable journeys.”
He added that Meridiam will finance its equity element of the scheme through to completion, subject to the project receiving Government approval.
The Government is expected to make an initial response on bids for private investment into the railway network in the autumn.
The Transport Secretary added: “The public sector does not have a monopoly on good ideas.
“We want to provide a sustainable future for the rail sector and open up the development and delivery of rail infrastructure to take full advantage of new and innovative solutions and relieve the burden on taxpayers and fare payers.”
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