ORR sets £25.9 million charges per year to keep High Speed 1 in good condition


The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today decided that train operators using the High Speed 1 rail line from London to the Channel Tunnel will collectively pay £25.9 million per year towards the long-term cost of keeping assets in good condition.

The 67-mile high speed track, originally opened in 2003, is owned by Government and operated by HS1 Ltd.

The charges are increasing compared to their current level because costs in the future will be higher than now, as the line and its assets are getting older and need more work, but the amount is  32% (£12.3m) per year less than HS1 Ltd requested. The charges spread out costs for necessary work over 40 years helping to prevent price spikes in future years.

ORR’s analysis has shown that the lower figure is sufficient to ensure the assets are sustained. The reduction compared to HS1 Ltd’s proposals will benefit operators and hence passengers and freight users.

The Final Determination, as it is called, will come into effect from 1 April 2020.

While we have approved the majority of HS1 Ltd’s proposals we have also determined some aspects of how the asset should be managed; these include reviewing the approach to asset life and project management costs. Given the increase in funding HS1 Ltd will receive and the expected ramp-up in work to renew the railway, we will be reviewing and heightening our monitoring and reporting of HS1 Ltd’s progress to ensure that the plan is delivered well and at good value.

John Larkinson, ORR Chief Executive, said:

"High Speed 1 is a valuable public asset and our role is to provide independent assurance that the line will be kept in good condition over the long-term at the lowest possible cost.

"This is important to make sure that train operators and, in turn, passengers and freight users get a good deal now but not at the expense of future generations."

Notes to editor
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  1. PR19 Final Determination.
  2. High Speed 1 Ltd holds a Concession Agreement for 30 years for operation of the HS1 network, until 31 December 2040.
  3. ORR carries out a periodic review, every five years, of HS1 Ltd’s funding for the following control period including consideration of its plans for the next 40 years, to establish whether those plans are consistent with its General Duty.
  4. Total charges of around £119m per year also include the costs of operating and maintaining the network and £25.9 million of this will be collected annually from train operators to specifically fund replacement and renewal of the line as needed.
  5. The Office of Rail and Road provides independent assurance and oversight of the UK’s railway and is also the monitor of England’s strategic roads.