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Heathrow's £900m rail link gears up for bids

The government has begun the search for companies to finance and construct a £900m rail line linking Heathrow to the Great Western Main Line.

The Department for Transport has published a prior information notice for companies to deliver two construction packages that will make up the proposed 6.5 km Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH).

Package A requires the construction of two twin-bored tunnels and a 5 km line that will connect to Heathrow T5’s existing rail tunnels.

A DfT notice was sent out to gauge market appetite for the construction, finance and maintenance of package A.

The notice reveals that the government is favouring a public-private partnership (PPP) for the scheme, using Whitehall’s current PF2 guidance to shape its approach.

The DfT is to hold market engagement sessions in June and July, and says bidding for the packages could begin in July next year.

A second package involves the construction of a tunnel at Langley Junction near Stevenage that will connect the line to the existing Great Western Main Line. 

Package B is expected to be funded and managed conventionally through Network Rail.

The overall project is valued at £900m and the DfT is aiming for work to begin during Network Rail’s CP6 funding period, which runs from 2019 to 2024. The project is expected to complete by 2027.

On Friday Network Rail will open its final public consultation over the WRLtH plans, with the aim of submitting a development consent order next April.

The WRLtH notice comes on the day the government officially invited firms to engage with it over a new rail link from Heathrow to Waterloo.

Heathrow’s £1.4bn Southern Rail Link is a planned 15 km line which will provide southern access to the UK’s biggest airport.

In March, transport secretary Chris Grayling revealed his plans to invite private firms to submit proposals to finance and build the line, which could be operational by 2025.

The Southern Rail Link has already attracted interest from firms including Aecom, which plans to finance, build and maintain the line through its Heathrow Southern Railway venture.

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