2005-11-07

Scottish High Speed Train Plan

A rail industry campaign for a 200_mph England/Scotland line that could also include 'bullet trains' between Edinburgh and Glasgow is to be launched 2005-11-07 by one of its leading figures. Mr.Chris Green... a former head of 'Virgin Trains' and 'ScotRail'... will argue that a new high-speed link is vital to enable the already congested rail network to cope with increased traffic. Mr.Green, who chairs the industry-wide 'Rail Forum', said Britain's railways had the fastest growing passenger numbers in Europe, but extra capacity was now required to meet demand. In Scotland, he said the network faced 'severe congestion' from increased freight trains, which are already the fastest-growing cause of delays to 'First ScotRail's' passenger services. Mr.Green will tell a conference in Milan, Italy, that the new line could be an extension of the high-speed 'Channel Tunnel' rail-link to London, which is due to be completed in 2007. The England/Scotland line, the route of which has still to be decided, would slash journey times by more than an hour, to 2 hrs 45 min, and Edinburgh/Glasgow trips to under 30 minutes. Mr.Green laid the groundwork for 'bullet trains' between Scotland's two largest cities by ordering line improvements when he headed 'ScotRail' in the 1980s. He has since helped mastermind the introduction of Britain's first working tilting trains on the Glasgow-London route while chief executive of 'Virgin Trains'. Mr.Green said the prospects were good for the new project, and ministers had commissioned former 'British Airways' chief Mr.Rod Eddington to consider such major schemes. He said the government was the first for decades to realise rail capacity had to be increased, and that Mr.Eddington 'fully understands the economic case' for the ten-year project. 'Scottish Enterprise' has already launched a study into high-speed transport links. Mr.Green said:
'There is a real danger that a long-term growth trend will founder because matching extra capacity is not provided. 'Demand for rail is set to continue in the UK as road congestion worsens, fuel prices rise and populations increase. 'However, there is a finite limit to how much more traffic we can squeeze on to a UK track network that was frozen in 1970. 'Scotland has been the most active part of the UK in encouraging rail growth. 'As a nation state with its own devolved budget, Scotland has been able to re-open numerous stations, restore branch lines and increase service frequencies. 'It has not, however, been able to increase mainline capacity between Glasgow and Edinburgh or between Scotland and England.'
Mr.Green said Britain was one of the few European countries not to have built high-speed rail routes linking major cities, with the 70-mile 'Channel Tunnel' rail-link a fraction of more than 1_000_miles of new high-speed lines being built in France. Mr.David Begg, the director of 'The Centre for Transport Policy' at 'Robert Gordon University' in Aberdeen, and a former government adviser, said the line would be vital to tackle overcrowding. He said:
'The trend is for significant passenger growth on inter-city north-south routes. 'In ten years' time, we will have run out of capacity which cannot be addressed effectively with extra trains.'
He said Scotland-London rail travel would become more competitive with airlines if journeys were cut to less than three hours, while planned pay-as-you-drive road charging would make cars less attractive. 'Rail experts launch drive for 200mph 'bullet trains' to London ', Alastair Dalton, The Scotsman, 2005-11-07, Mo Links: Department for Transport Office of Rail Regulation Strategic Rail Authority Association of Train Operating Companies Network Rail National Railway Museum

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