Last month, HS1 concessionaire HS1 Ltd published its draft Five-Year Asset Management Statement (5YAMS), which sets out how the company plans to manage and maintain the line in Control Period 3 (CP3), which runs from 2020 to 2024.

HS1 says a detailed engineering analysis indicates the cost of renewals over the next 40 years will amount to around £1.54bn. As the operation of HS1 is entirely privately funded, the cost of renewals will filter down to operators through increased access charges.

Under the pricing structure proposed by HS1 Ltd in the 5YAMS, charges for international passenger services will therefore increase by 43%, with domestic services subject to a 25% rise. Freight tariffs will increase by 74% from £7.54 per train-km to £13.10 per train-km.

HS1 says track renewals will account for 68% of long-term renewal costs, compared with 35% in CP2. “International operators use longer heavier trains that cause significantly higher wear-and-tear than domestic trains,” HS1 Ltd states in the draft 5YAMS. “This means that in addition to renewal costs increasing, international operators face a higher proportion of the increased charge.”


The proposed increases have drawn sharp criticism from train operators and industry associations. In its formal response to the draft 5YAMS, Eurostar, currently the sole international operator using HS1, warned that the proposed charging regime for CP3 “proposes extraordinary price increases and risk transfers which may have a material long-term effect on the development of the railway.

“Such proposals require a convincing evidential case,” Eurostar states. “It is Eurostar’s view that the case has not been made and many questions remain. Further independent analysis is likely to be required.

“There is a risk that an abundance of caution in pursuit of infrastructure sustainability stifles near-term investment and in turn renders the same system unsustainable from the perspective of passenger affordability.”

Eurostar claims that on a per km basis, access to HS1 is four times more costly than the Lille – Brussels high-speed line and 55% more expensive than using the Paris – Lille high-speed line.

The operator says the efficiency proposals being put forward by HS1 Ltd in the 5YAMS are “not ambitious” and fall short of benchmarks. It also argues that HS1 Ltd lacks incentives in its concession agreement to develop accurate long-term forecasts.

“The proposed increases by HS1 are very high and we will be engaging strongly over the summer to argue our case that any changes have to be justified and efficient,” a Eurostar spokesman told IRJ.  “We are committed to offering competitive fares and are making a significant investment in our service as we want to provide a high quality experience to passengers. To achieve this level of investment we have to manage our costs effectively and the costs relating to infrastructure are critical.

“HS1 charges comprise a significant part of our cost base and therefore a significant part of the cost of tickets paid by Eurostar customers. There is a direct link between our costs and the price that customers pay as well as the funds available to us for future investment in the service. That is why we are concerned about the very high proposed increase in charges from HS1 and will work hard to protect the interests of our customers.”

Vital freight link

Rail freight operators DB Cargo and GB Railfreight have also objected to the proposed tariff increases. “HS1 is a vital freight link providing the only continental gauge route between Britain of Europe,” Mrs Maggie Simpson, director general of the Rail Freight Group, told IRJ. “It is shocking that HS1 is proposing such significant increases in access charges, which risk a total cessation of services. On the doorstep of Brexit, we should be supporting our cross-Channel trade routes, not closing them to business.”

A spokesperson for HS1 said in an emailed statement: “HS1 Ltd is required, under the terms of the concession agreement with the Department for Transport, to develop clear plans for the required maintenance and renewals activities in CP3. This agreement was conceived on the basis of no network grant, unlike the rest of the British rail network.

“HS1 Ltd holds the concession from government to operate, manage and maintain the high-speed railway infrastructure until December 2040. Continued investment in maintenance and renewals is required to ensure the future sustainability of High Speed 1 infrastructure.”