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NEWS


GLA’s £600m bond issue to raise Crossrail funds


The Greater London Authority is turning to the capital markets to raise money for Crossrail.


It is the first local authority to do so for 17 years, having announced a £600m bond issue, through a new vehicle developed with Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets.


It is reported that the last coun- cils to use the bond market were Leicester and Salford in 1994.


Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “This is a great example of the


public and private sectors


coming together and delivering an innovative solution to bear down on borrowing costs. I hope this is a model local government can de- velop for other important improve- ments we make to the capital and beyond.”


The GLA believes the bond op- tion could shave £65m off the costs of long-term borrowing for the scheme. It is required to bor- row a total of £3.5bn for Crossrail, just under a quarter of the total £14.8bn construction bill.


Andrew Géczy, chief executive of wholesale markets and co-head of Lloyds Bank Corporate Mar- kets, called the transaction “sig- nificant as well as innovative”.


After a number of delays and false starts, the Manchester Metrolink’s southern extension began running services on July 7.


The line, linking the city centre to Firswood, Chorlton, and St Wer- burgh’s Road, is the first phase of longer-term £1.4bn expansion plans for the network, which will grow to triple its current size.


Further lines are being delivered through Oldham and on to Roch- dale, to Ashton-under-Lyne via Droylsden, from the Chorlton line to East Didsbury, and to Man- chester Airport via Wythenshawe. A second line across the city cen- tre is also being developed.


Cllr Andrew Fender, who chairs the Transport for Greater Man- chester committee, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce the start of services on the Chorlton line.


“It is both an historic occasion and a sign of the exciting future in store for the network, as we con- tinue our £1.4bn expansion – the single biggest investment in pub- lic transport outside of London.


“Residents and businesses have been eagerly awaiting this news and I would like to thank them for their patience, understanding and continued support while we com- pleted the essential testing and commissioning.


“I would also pass on my thanks and appreciation to all of our ex-


isting Metrolink passengers. In- vestment on this scale is bound to cause some disruption some- where and I want to thank them for their patience too.”


The new lines will be controlled by


a new tram management system, aimed at making services more reliable – the testing of which caused a number of the delays to the opening of the new line, origi- nally slated to start running back in the spring.


The RMT union has welcomed Merseytravel’s U-turn on ‘vertical integration’, which the union said would actually have led to more fragmentation.


The influence of the rail unions was widely thought to be behind the decision by Merseytravel, the passenger authority in the region, which had previously been strong- ly in favour of a single organisation running the track, signalling and


train services in the region.


It spent £1.5m lobbying for the change, which was specifically recommended by Sir Roy Mc- Nulty, but in June members of the transport authority voted to break off negotiations on it. Chairman Mark Dowd said there was too much “uncertainty” about the pro- posed plans.


But RMT general secretary Bob


Crow,


speaking


at


the


union’s


AGM in Fort William at the end of June, said: “Common sense has prevailed in Merseytravel and this decision can only be welcomed as the first defeat for the McNulty


proposals to break up Network Rail.


“What the train operators are calling vertical integration is nothing of the sort and would only amount to more dangerous fragmentation


of infrastructure.


The only safe and sensible way to achieve vertical integration is to re-unite all rail operations with infrastructure in a single publicly accountable structure.”


rail technology magazine Jun/Jul 11 | 7


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