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A chequered history

December 2005: Preston to Glasgow upgrade will complete the 125mph route between London and Glasgow.

June 2005: Crewe to Liverpool and Preston upgrade to 125mph completed.

September 2004: London to Manchester upgrade completed.

Virgin's new Pendolino trains set a new 1 hour 54 min record for the journey.

May 2003: 19 week blockade on 77km of track south of Manchester allows massive upgrade progress to be achieved.

Early 2003: Project scope adjusted and cost pegged to £8.5bn.

August 2002: First small scale blockades trialled to fast track work. Cost estimate reaches £13bn for whole scheme.

February 2002: Programme manager Parsons Brinckerhoff replaced by Bechtel. Tom McCarthy brought in to lead the project.

November 2001: plans to upgrade to 140mph abandoned.

October 2001: Railtrack put into administration due to government concern over spiralling rail costs, particularly on the West Coast project.

June 2001: Railtrack chief executive Steve Marshall takes direct control of the West Coast project after departure of Simon Murray.

November 1999: moving block signalling abandoned due to £5.8bn cost.

April 1999: Railtrack director Simon Murray takes charge of the project.

1999: US giant Parsons Brinckerhoff replaces Brown & Root.

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