Busy railway stationA flurry of new entrants have emerged in Europe’s
rail finance market, it emerged last month.

Besides Close Leasing, Lloyds Banking
Group is now said to be a major player in this sector, according to
sources within the roscos.

This takes place in the wake of news that
the Tory-Lib Dem coalition has also undertaken a pledge to
establish a high-speed rail network as part of its programme to
fulfil “joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy”,
although George Lynn, finance director of Angel Trains, the largest
rosco, said the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) had been

Also last month, in one of Europe’s
largest public sector deals for some time, Stagecoach issued a
£1.3bn (€1.5bn) lease rolling stock tender notice for use on the
East Anglia Line.

It also issued an £180m notice for the
Essex Thameside franchise.

Meanwhile, it is understood the
government is reviewing the value for money of the IEP, which was
aimed at providing a higher-speed, more environmentally-friendly
service to replace InterCity 125 and 225 fleets.

The government has also promised to
support Crossrail, which covers London and the south east of
England, and further electrification of the rail network.

Lessors could see further opportunities
in Europe as high-speed rail networks grow in popularity.

Other transport opportunities emerged
last month with news that Angel Trains is currently building and
putting on lease a further 106 “pendolino” trains, which have a
maximum speed of 140 mph and are to be manufactured by Alstom – the
same company supplying trains to Italy’s NTV (Nuovo Trasporto

The trains, bound for the West Coast Main
Line, will be delivered in the next 12 months.

NTV is also planning to begin operation
of an ultra-high speed network by the first half of 2011, dubbed
“Italo”, with trains capable of speeds up to 357 mph.

It will be one of the first such ventures
to be privately owned and operated in Italy.

In the Stagecoach notice, lessors were
asked to provide financing for electric suburban commuter services,
long-distance electric 100 mph services and diesel regional
services for Stagecoach Anglia and electric suburban passenger
services for Thameside.

The deadline for tenders passed at the
beginning of May but a spokesman for Stagecoach said no specific
date had been set for a final decision on contract award.