Chinese Rail Giants Tipped to Win HS2 Operator Contract

By Gary Cutlack on at

The two Chinese entrants on the HS2 operator bids shortlist are likely to win, according to sources, not just because they're the best and have the deepest, state-backed pockets, but also due to the UK's rail franchises not exactly filling everyone with confidence.

China's Guangshen Railway Co and Hong Kong's MTR are on the shortlist of bidders, up against consortiums including existing franchise holders Virgin and First Group. However, with First Group in a financially perilous situation and Virgin enduring the shame of seeing the East Coast line franchise taken away from it recently, the goal is apparently wide open for the massive Chinese rail experts to come in with their troublesome "know how" and their bloody vast amounts of "experience" and all the "money" they have wisely accumulated.

Key to their victory, according to the Times, is the size of financial bonds needing to be put in place to safeguard the future operation of the line. The terms for winning ownership of the West Coast Partnership that'll eventually run HS2 include putting in large chunks of capital and guaranteeing future pension rights -- something the UK rail companies may not be keen to do, as running British trains and making any money don't tend to go hand in hand. [The Times]