Channel link winning bid may be announced tomorrow

Bidders vying to run 186-mph route from London to Ashford

The successful bidder for the high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link may be announced tomorrow as Transport Secretary Philip Hammond extended the process to lunchtime today.

Speculation is rife that the offer by a consortium led by the Groupe Eurotunnel SA, the favourite to win the bid, has been topped by a rival, the Times said.

Final offers had been due Friday, but reports of a further round in the process were pouring in, the newspaper said.
Besides Eurotunnel, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, German insurer Allianz and two Ontario pension funds had offered to buy Britain's only high-speed rail route.

The bidders were vying to run the 186-mph (300km per hour) route from London to the Channel Tunnel. The rail link, being sold by the UK government, could fetch 2bn pounds.

Earlier, the Eurotunnel was widely expected to emerge the winner. However, Hammond is likely to make the final decision on the matter solely on price, the Times reported.