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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 00:15 GMT
Tories to plan for 300mph trains
Maglev train
The Maglev train is operating in China
The Conservatives are to look at the possibility of introducing 300mph magnetic levitation trains to the UK.

The party said it would also study whether high-speed rail links like those in France were feasible.

Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling said it was important to develop new technology to "help our battle against global warming".

He also said a dedicated freight route between ports, the Channel Tunnel and business centres would be examined.


The Tories said it was discussing options with other groups, including the high speed rail panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers to provide an independent assessment of the options.

Last month the Institution of Civil Engineers said that spending public money on introducing Maglev magnetic levitation trains in the UK would be "inappropriate and irresponsible" as it was "not yet a mature technology".

In September, one of the trains, travelling at 125mph, crashed in Germany, killing 23 people.

And Sir Rod Eddington, a former British Airways chief executive, said in his report on transport requirements this month that a new north-south high-speed rail link was a low priority.

The Conservative Party said it would look into constructing:

  • A conventional high-speed rail network using TGV-type trains (like those in France) running on traditional rails. This would probably initially involve extending the existing Channel Tunnel Rail Link northwards

  • An ultra-high speed inter-city rail links using Maglev technology

  • The development of a new dedicated freight route, possibly using derelict or under-used rail corridors

    'Big headache'

    Mr Grayling said: "Transport is one of Britain's big headaches.

    "In the immediate future, we have to start making a difference to Britain's congestion problems quickly.

    "So our focus in government would initially be on 'quick wins' - projects that can start to change things in a relatively short period of time.

    "We believe that the right mix of smaller projects, for example longer trains, improvements to individual bottlenecks on the roads, making improvements to transport interchanges, represents the best way to start making a difference quickly."

    He added: "Any of the three options we are looking at would be expensive, and would probably need to be developed in phases in the way our motorway network was.

    "But we would not be doing our job properly if we were not looking at the longer term as well as short- term challenges."

    Graphic showing how a Maglev train works
    Like poles on magnets keep train above track
    Train is propelled by electro-magnetic system in the sides of the "guideway" instead of onboard engine
    Top speed (with passengers) - 450km/h (280mph)
    Developed by Transrapid Int in Germany
    Operating commercially in Shanghai
    Source: Transrapid International

    National road tolls 'in 10 years'
    03 Dec 06 |  UK Politics
    Should UK trains look to magnets?
    07 Sep 06 |  Business

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