Members of the Rock Rail team were joined by train operator FirstGroup and Aberdeen Standard Investments, Rock Rail’s co-equity investors, at the Partnerships Awards event to receive the two awards for Rock Rail South Western. The event, held in London in May 2018, celebrates the best of public private partnerships.
The Rock Rail South Western deal reached closure last year on the funding and supply of 90 ‘AVENTRA’ trains made up of 750 electric multiple unit vehicles. The fleet will enter service on the South Western franchise from mid-2019 and will offer a significantly enhanced passenger experience, increased capacity and reduced journey times on the Windsor, Reading and West London suburban routes serving Waterloo station.
The transaction built on the success of the Rock Rail’s previous rolling stock deals, Rock Rail Moorgate and Rock Rail East Anglia, but was significantly larger at £1 billion. The larger investment requirement led to Rock Rail expanding the previous institutional investor funding group with a total of 9 institutions providing long term fixed rate debt and resulting in the largest unwrapped, unrated private placement ever in the UK greenfield infrastructure space.
The Rock Rail structure critically involves a long-term alignment of interests between the franchise operator, the Department for Transport, the manufacturer, debt and equity investors and Rock Rail.
The approach has created a new market standard that enables the provision of long term institutional debt finance to fund rolling stock in the UK for short term franchises under franchise competition conditions. By enabling direct institutional investment, it has increased the level of competition amongst funders and has and will continue to drive down costs and offer significantly better value for money to the government, the UK tax payer and rail passengers.