Rail roundup

Government has agreed to sell its entire interest in Eurostar International Limited for £757.1M. A consortium of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure has agreed to acquire government’s 40% stake for £585.1M. Eurostar has, on closing of the sale of the government stake, agreed to redeem government's preference share, for £172M.

Crossrail’s 1000t tunnel machine Victoria has broken into Liverpool Street station marking construction of 40km of the project’s 42km of train tunnel which finishes this spring. Victoria now has 750m to bore before arriving at Farringdon. Ahead of Victoria, her sister machine, Elizabeth has already  started her final journey from Liverpool Street to Farringdon and her arrival will link the Crossrail tunnels for the first time.

Also at Crossrail Liverpool Street, archaeologists have begun excavating around 3000 skeletons from the Bedlam burial ground used during the period of the Great Plague in 1665. Tests on excavated plague victims will further understanding of the evolution of the plague bacteria strain. The skeletons will be excavated over the next four weeks, after which archaeologists will dig through medieval marsh deposits and Roman remains. A Roman road runs under the site, which has already yielded several interesting Roman artefacts such as horseshoes and cremation urns. Once the archaeologists leave site, Laing O'Rourke can get on with construction of the Liverpool Street ticket hall.

Government has announced £60M of extra funding to transform rail stations around the UK. Train operators and local authorities will be able to bid for a share of the money, which can be put towards improvements such as car parks, ticket gates and better facilities. The first round of this funding, worth nearly £100M, has been used to improve 45 stations across the country since 2011. 

Orders have gone in for the two tunnel boring machines for the £1bn Northern Line extension. London Underground has picked French firm NFM technologies to supply the machines to the Ferrovial Agroman Laing O’Rourke joint venture by summer 2016. 

A new competition has been launched to encourage rail innovation. The Train Operator Competition (TOC’15) is funded with £6M from the Department for Transport and organised by FutureRailway, an expert body set up by the rail industry to accelerate research, development and innovation. It is inviting proposals which train operators and their supply chains will fund, along with government financial support. These will be aimed at: enhancing customer experience, expanding capacity, reducing costs, and reducing carbon.

Government has announced safeguarding of the route of Crossrail 2 which would run between south west and north east London. Department for Transport is working with Transport for London and Network Rail on a business case, after the Chancellor made £2 million available to support this work. The safeguarded route runs from Wimbledon to Southgate and Tottenham Hale.