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July 1, 2010updated 12 Apr 2017 4:22pm

Possible opportunities in high-speed projects

Air travel chaos caused by Icelandic volcano sees passengers increasingly turning to rail. A number of new high-speed rail projects across Europe are heading towards completion, but not much stock is to be financed through leasing.

By Claire Hack

Air travel chaos caused by Icelandic volcano sees passengers increasingly turning to rail.

 

A number of new high-speed rail projects across Europe are heading towards completion, but not much stock is to be financed through leasing.

Run by state operators, the new high-speed networks on the continent are generally funded through bonds, according to many sources.

Nevertheless, as high-speed rail grows in popularity, so too does interest from financiers. Also, as swingeing public spending cuts loom throughout Europe, operators may have to look to alternative means of funding.

In March this year, for example, a conference took place in Madrid to look at the future of high speed rail and was attended by representatives of a number of transport operators, including French national operator SNCF.

And as recent travel chaos caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland helped boost the popularity of rail journeys, with travellers looking to take the train instead of risking a domestic flight, high-speed networks are becoming increasingly attractive.

Rail travel is already reported to be outperforming air travel on shorter trips in Spain, where the high-speed Alta Velocidad Española is already running.

Italy’s NTV is also planning to open its ultra-high speed network, dubbed “Italo”, within the first six months of 2011, with trains capable of travelling at speeds of up to 357 mph.

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

UK rosco Angel Trains is also currently said to be 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 NTV – but much depends upon the emergency Budget, which, at time of writing, had not yet been released.

The trains, to be used on the West Coast Main Line, will be delivered within approximately the next year, Angel financial director George Lynn said.

The Lib-Con coalition undertook a pledge to establish a high speed rail network as part of its programme to fulfil “joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy”, but there has been a high level of scepticism over whether projects such as the Intercity Express Programme will get off the ground.

 

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