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Railhub Archive
2004-03-25 DfT-001
Department for Transport


Government announces decision on Central Railway freight line

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Department for Transport

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Department for Transport

Government announces decision on Central Railway freight line

25 Mar 2004 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release

Transport Minister Kim Howells today announced that the Government has decided not to support Central Railway's proposal for a Parliamentary Bill for a dedicated freight line that would link the Channel Tunnel with the North West of England.

The Bill would have sought powers to build a 10 billion freight line that would have run from the Channel Tunnel to Liverpool, routed south of London and via Sheffield.

The main reason for the decision is that Central Railway has not demonstrated to the Government's satisfaction that it would be able to gain the necessary financial backing to build and run the line.

Central Railway have argued that the line could be totally privately funded. But if the project ran into difficulties the Government would come under intense pressure to intervene with taxpayers' money.

Kim Howells made clear that the Government is committed to development of the rail network. Improvements to the West Coast Main Line and the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will both provide substantial extra capacity for freight traffic and will support further investment and regeneration in the South East and North West.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Kim Howells said:

"While such a scheme could make a contribution to increasing the carriage of freight by rail, Central Railway has not substantiated the likely financeability of the proposals.

"The promoters have received expressions of interest from a number of possible debt providers but these are generally substantially caveated. Neither have they demonstrated that the significant amount of equity finance would be forthcoming.

"Central Railway has claimed that no call would be made on the public purse. However once the Government agreed to promote a Bill, inescapably it would be taken to be backing the project.

"Should initial finance not be raised, or the project run into financial difficulty once work was under way, the Government of the day could not escape intense pressure to intervene. The Government has therefore concluded that it cannot promote a Bill against such risks."

A copy of the full written statement is available on the Department's website.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
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Railhub Archive ::: 2004-03-25 DfT-001


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