Engineer proposes private finance model for extended high-speed rail network linking airport to Continent and regions

Engineering firm Arup is meeting transport secretary Ruth Kelly today to discuss financing for a £4.5bn rail extension to Heathrow airport.

The firm said it was seeing Kelly in order to promote plans for rail project High Speed 2 as a private-sector venture.

The proposed scheme, which would see Heathrow become the first stop on an extended high-speed rail network, would provide the airport with a direct train link to Continental Europe and connect it to regional rail services on the Great Western Main Line.

Mark Bostock
Bostock: "Extending high-speed rail in Britain is an inevitability"

Arup's suggested finance model includes raising revenue from the sale of the train paths that would be created by the project.

The engineer published the proposal in May as part of a package of measures to improve access to the airport, add capacity and address environmental concerns. It has an estimated price tag of £4.5bn and a completion date of 2019.

Mark Bostock, a director of Arup, said: “Extending high-speed rail in Britain is an inevitability - a matter of when, not if. The rising cost of flying, and growing awareness of its environmental impact, has seen a surge in demand for our existing high-speed rail services, and this trend is set to continue. The finance model we are outlining today would offer business the early opportunity to invest in a growth market.”