Knight puts tunnel project back on track

Bill Knight of Simmons & Simmons is leading a legal team which claims to have saved the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) project from disaster.

His team of up to 48 lawyers created structural and financial solutions over the summer that will allow Railtrack, a long-standing client, to acquire a stake in CTRL after it is built.

“We came up with a structure which allowed Railtrack to buy the railway – that made the whole project bankable,” said Knight.

The complex and politically sensitive deal has gained widespread media attention. “This is a very real project, in that it's something that we'll all be able to use. We were very pleased to do it,” said Knight.

The lawyers restructured troubled London & Continental Railways to allow Railtrack's participation. They negotiated £700m of banking facilities involving 20 contracts, and construction, track access and commercial issues involving another 40.

“The key was in the co-ordination , pulling together the 60 contracts involved into a suite of agreements which interlock and stand together,” said Knight. Other partners included Charles Mayo, Charles Goodall, Nick Fisher, Gareth Davies, and Melanie Farquharson.

Other firms involved include Herbert Smith, who acted for London & Continental Railways, Cameron McKenna acting for the Government and Allen & Overy for the banking syndicate.