ORR says while the cost of maintaining the infrastructure will continue to increase as the asset ages and requires more work, its analysis determined that the lower figure is sufficient, and will bring a lower rise in charges to operators using the route.

HS1 Ltd holds a concession agreement for operation of the HS1 line linking London St Pancras with the channel Tunnel for 30 years, until December 31 2040.

The draft determination will now go out to public consultation until November 11, before the final determination of the bill for the next five years is announced in January.

ORR says it accepted the majority of HS1 Ltd’s proposals but made recommendations about how the asset should be managed. These include reviewing the approach to asset life, seeking efficiencies in the supply chain and improving its approach to research and development.

The consultation will ask for stakeholder views on the draft determination in light of those considerations.

Operators using HS1 had previously expressed frustration at HS1 Ltd’s plans for a significant increase in track access charges on the route.

Under the pricing structure proposed by HS1 Ltd in its Five-Year Asset Management Statement, charges for international passenger services would increase by 43%, with domestic services subject to a 25% rise. Freight tariffs would also increase by 74% from £7.54 per train-km to £13.10 per train-km.

“High Speed 1 is a valuable public asset and our role is to provide independent assurance that HS1’s assets can be kept in good condition over the long term at the lowest possible cost,” says ORR chief executive, Mr John Larkinson. “This is important to make sure that operators and, in turn, passengers and freight users get a good deal now but not at the expense of future generations.”