Rails et Histoire

2e Colloque/2nd Conference Londres/London, 8 décembre/December 2015

Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond : Capital and governance in major infrastructure projects is the Second International Conference on the agenda. It will be held in London (UK), at the Institut français, on Tuesday, 8 December 2015.

The conference at a glance :
  • Reminder for SPEAKERS : Deadline for submission of full paper (final paper) for publication : 8 January 2016
  • Full Programme is available for pdf download at the bottom of the page or HERE
  • Full DOSSIER incl. ABSTRACTS is available for pdf download at the bottom of the page or HERE
  • FINAL PRESS RELEASE is available for pdf download at the bottom of the page or HERE

Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond : Capital and governance in major infrastructure projects : About the Conference

Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond : Capital and governance in major infrastructure projects is the second international conference on the agenda of Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond, the research and events programme led by Rails et histoire, the French Railway Historical Society, to celebrate 20th Anniversary of the railway Channel tunnel and 30th Anniversary of the Channel Tunnel Treaty.

The programme Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond strongly encourages the dialogue between the academic world, corporations and administrations. The international conference will bring together academics, professionals and policy makers interested in infrastructure finance and governance of major projects, with a focus on the cross-Channel rail infrastructure between London, Paris and Brussels and beyond.

The partners for the International Conference :

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The programme includes research papers, case studies and first-hand accounts by actors, and all are welcome to take a part in the open discussion which is one of the main objectives of the Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond programme.


A network is worth only its weakest link. The road network of the Roman Empire remains an icon for major infrastructure projects at any time as well as an illustration for such a fact. What the many centuries which came afterwards taught us, is that the success in building and operating major infrastructure projects depends mainly on two earlier, less material steps : planning and financing. Here lies the actual challenge and place for out of the ordinary prowess - and failure. Since 1945, a steep increase of world population, economic growth and international trade supported an enormous increase of transport flows for passengers and goods. The rising costs for major infrastructure projects stretched the financial capacity of States and markets, encouraging complex and innovative solutions to make them possible.


The cross-Channel railway link is the largest infrastructure project of the 20th Century. The tunnel and high-speed lines it connects constitute a Pharaonic and successful technical achievement. They carried more than 350 million passengers since 1994 with the highest safety records. Beyond the tunnel, the cross-Channel link is a unique case of interdependent infrastructures, forming a complex transport system with the Channel Tunnel Railway Link (CTRL, now High Speed 1), continental ‘LGV’s (high speed trains dedicated lines), Eurostar services, High Speed 2 project, to leave aside the important road access built around the tunnel and further developments in Kent and Nord Pas-de-Calais regions. The funding and governance of this unique transportation system represented however a succession of unprecedented challenges. The tunnel itself was financed by private capital exclusively - a mix of equity and bond - on request of the British government, in the early 1980s. Traffic forecast and financial analysis prior to the selection of Eurotunnel project, in 1986, ensured that the concession (of Build, Own, Operate and Transfer or BOOT type) could generate sufficient return to attract private investors. But cost increase, delays and traffic flows much lower than forecast hampered the repayment capacity. The financing and governance of the Channel Tunnel concession led to major rows and law suits between parties involved as well as successive restructuring plans. The construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link between the tunnel and London, CTRL, now High Speed 1, was initially based on a privately funded project finance as well. But the failure of the second equity phase paved the way for a public subsidy to finalise the financing plan. Since then, their business model stabilised : financial results are encouraging, debts are serviced and tunnel shareholders even received their first dividends. The financial history of the bi-national Channel tunnel concession and the British CTRL is of utmost interest to understand drivers of major infrastructure projects. The biggest private rail projects of all times with respectively 10 and 6 billion pounds, they are a unique concentration of experience. Associated high-speed lines on the Continent - Northern French and Belgian LGVs - followed a more conservative approach and were financed with mostly public money. But they are equally key to success for the cross-Channel venture. Analysing “how the project, marred by many difficulties, both political and technical eventually reached its successful conclusion” (François Crouzet) in its financial and governance aspects is a challenge worth being met or, to quote its first co-chairman, André Bénard : “The Eurotunnel project is not a model but a worthy reference”. After twenty years in operation and as the 30th anniversary of the Canterbury Channel Tunnel Treaty will be celebrated in 2016, the research programme Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond puts the spotlight on this experience. The London conference aims at presenting existing research and initiating further studies to make the best out of this reference for major infrastructure projects today and tomorrow. Research papers, case studies, firsthand accounts are equally part of the discussion.

Steering Committee, responsible for the scientific programme of the conference

  • Prof. Christian de Boissieu, Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (France), Chairman of the Franco British Council - French Section
  • Prof. Terence Gourvish, London School of Economics and Political Sciences (UK)
  • Members of the Scientific Board of advisers of the Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond programme.

All communications should be sent to 20yearschunnel@ahicf.com

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FULL PROGRAMME_LONDON 8 DECEMBER 2015 Capital and Governance in major Infrastructure Projects
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London 8 December_Capital and Governance of Major Infrastructure Projects_DOSSIER

Short bibliography

  • Alexandersson, Gunnar ; Hulten, Staffan, “Prospects and pitfalls of Public-Private partnerships in railway transportation. Theoritical issues and empirical experience”, International Journal of Transport Economics, vol. 36, 1, 2009, pp. 97-119.
  • Anguera, Ricard, “The Channel Tunnel - an ex post economic evaluation”, Transportation Research Part A : Policy and Practice, vol. 40, issue 4, London, 2006, pp. 291-315.
  • Bénard, André, « Eurotunnel : le défi managérial et financier », Futuribles, n° 204 (décembre 1995), pp. 31-50.
  • Bénard, André, “Financial Engineering of Eurotunnel”, in Davidson, Frank P. ; Frankel, Ernst G. and Meador, C. Lawrence, eds., Macro-Engineering : MIT Brunel Lectures on Global Infrastructure, Chichester, Horwood Publishing, Horwood Series in Engineering Science, 1997.
  • Boissieu, Christian de, Les Mutations de l’économie mondiale, Paris, Economica, 2000.
  • Boissieu, Christian de ; Couppey-Soubeyran, Jézabel, Les Systèmes financiers. Mutations, crises et régulations, Paris, Economica, 2013.
  • Budäus, D., ed., Kooperationsformen zwischen Staat und Markt – Theoretische Grundlagen und praktische Ausprägungen von Public Private Partnership, Baden-Baden, 2006.
  • Campagnac, E. ; Deffontaines, G., « Une analyse socio-économique critique des PPP », Revue d’économie industrielle, n° 140 (2013), pp. 45-79.
  • Caron, François, « Comment financer les grandes infrastructures de transport. Le financement des chemins de fer et le système des concessions », in « Les chemins de fer en temps de concurrence », Revue d’histoire des chemins de fer, n° 16-17, 2009, pp. 214-222.
  • The completion and sale of High Speed 1 (No. Fourth Report of Session 2012-2013), Committee of Public Accounts, 2012.
  • Debande, Olivier, “Private Financing of Transport Infrastructure. An Assessment of the UK Experience”, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, 2002 (36), pp. 355-387.
  • Dehornoy, Julien, « Les PPP dans le secteur ferroviaire : Bilan de 27 projets », Revue générale des chemins de fer, 2013 (230), pp. 6-26.
  • De Palma, André ; Lindsey, Robin ; Quinet, Emile ; Vickerman, Roger, Eds, A Handbook of Transport Economics, Elgar, 2011.
  • Essig, Philippe, « L’expérience du Tunnel sous la Manche », in « Les chemins de fer en temps de concurrence », Revue d’histoire des chemins de fer, n° 16-17, 2009, pp. 369-386.
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent, et al., Megaprojects and Risks. An anatomy of an ambition, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Gourvish, Terence, The Official History of Britain and the Channel Tunnel, London, Routledge, 2006.
  • Gourvish, Terence, “The financing of a large infrastructure project : the case of the Channel Tunnel”, in Millward, Robert, et al., Reappraising State Owned Enterprise. International Studies in Business History, Abingdon, Routledge, 2011.
  • Högselius, Per, et al., The Making of Europe’s Critical Infrastructure : Common Connections and Shared Vulnerabilities, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
  • Laffont, Jean-Jacques ; Tirole, Jean, A Theory of incentives in procurement and regulation, Cambridge Mass., MIT Press, 1993.
  • Litwin, George H., et al., Mobilizing the Organization : Bringing Strategy to Life, London, Prentice Hall, 1996. See chapter, “Eurotunnel”, pp. 106-128.
  • Lyonnet du Moutier, Michel, et al., Financement de projet et partenariats public-privé, Cormelles-le-Royal, Éditions Management et Société, 2012.
  • Martinand, Claude, L’Expérience française du financement privé des équipements publics, Paris, Economica, 1993.
  • Millward, Robert, Private and Public Enterprise in Europe : Energy, telecommunications and transport, 1830-1990, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Mühlenkamp, Holger, ed., “Öffentlich-Private Partnerschaften – Potentiale und Probleme“, Beiheft der Zeitschrift für öffentliche und gemeinwirtschaftliche Unternehmen, to be published 2015.
  • Pignon-Xardel, Sophie ; Manoukian, Stéphane ; Vitse, Laurent, Le Financement des partenariats public-privé : problématiques juridiques et financières, pratiques et enjeux, Paris, Le Moniteur, 2010.
  • Réaliser et exploiter les infrastructures de transport. Les concessions ont-elles un avenir ? À quelles conditions ?, Paris, Presses de l’École nationale des ponts et chaussées, 2001.
  • Robinson, H., et al., Governance and Knowledge Management for Public-Private Partnerships, London, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • Saussier, Stéphane, Économie des partenariats public-privé : développements théoriques et empiriques, Bruxelles, De Boeck, 2015.
  • Winch, Graham T., Managing Construction Projects, London, Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2009.
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