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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 00:06 GMT
Experts want high-speed rail link
A high-speed Virgin Pedalino train
The service would be faster than the 125mph West Coast Main Line
A high-speed rail link should be built to cut journey times from London to Scotland to three hours, experts say.

The Institution of Civil Engineers said the link could match services in the EU where trains travel at up to 215mph.

It would be faster than the upgraded West Coast Main Line, which began a 125mph service to Glasgow on Monday, because it would use new tracks.

The ICE said a new link could cut air and road use. It would take 10 years to build and would cost 30bn.

Environmental benefits

The report - entitled The Missing Link - was compiled by 16 leading industry figures including rail company executives, economists, engineers and academics.

It said a new rail link would have a lower environmental impact and could cost less than expanding the motorway network or building new airport runways.

It also pointed to government research which said that journey time was a key factor in how people chose to travel.

Once again it is time for the train to take the strai
Graeme Monteith, ICE

With current journey times from London to Glasgow standing at five and a half hours, it was unsurprising that 93% of business passengers chose to fly rather than travel by rail, the ICE said.

Spokesman Graeme Monteith said: "Once again it is time for the train to take the strain.

"This would have a positive impact on the environment and play a significant role in reducing the UK's carbon emissions from transport in the longer term."

The report did not propose a route for the rail link, but said it would be six times longer than the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which cost 5.2bn and is due to be completed in 2007.

The Department of Transport said the viability of a high-speed link was being examined and the main question was whether there was a market for a new service.

Mounting case

A spokesman said: "We need to find out if it would be a solution to transport problems or can be ruled out."

The upgrade to the West Coast Main Line has cost 8bn and has involved 1,100 miles of track being re-laid.

The Rail Passengers Council said the case was "mounting steadily" for a new high-speed line because the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines were operating at close to capacity.

A spokeswoman said: "A new high-speed line would be a cost effective solution if the right balance can be struck on who pays for it."




SEE ALSO:
Journey times to London reduced
12 Dec 05 |  England
Warning on Channel rail link cost
20 Jul 05 |  Business
Tilting train problems addressed
07 Feb 05 |  England


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