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Adonis rues West Coast Main Line

Transport secretary Lord Adonis last week admitted that the £9bn spent on the West Coast Main Line would have been far better spent on developing a truly high speed line.

Speaking at the summit he said the upgrade provided an incremental increase in capacity, but fell short of providing what was required.

“Essentially it was an upgraded Victorian railway line,” he said. “But if we could rerun the past … I’m clear that we would have taken a different decision.”

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher added that current spending plans could also be questioned if high speed rail was further advanced.

“Over the next five years we’re spending £12bn on enhancements,” he said.

“You could argue whether we would need to spend that much if high speed rail comes in.” The West Coast upgrade was intended to enable trains to run at increased speeds from 200km/h to 225km/h.

Shortsighted planning

But costs soared from £2.2bn to £9bn and plans to increase speeds were ditched, partly due to the failure to convert the system to moving block signalling.

“We haven’t been particularly good at planning in this country,” said Adonis. He added that the upgrade caused “huge disruption”.

He said compensation costs of £500M that have been paid to operators while lines were out of operation would not have been incurred if a new line had been built instead.

Readers' comments (2)

  • "...if we could rerun the past..." he says. Wise words, hindsight is indeed a glorious thing. HS2 is at least 20 years away anayway.

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  • Dear Sir,

    Now is the chance for the Government to sponsor a Bill to be announced in THIS YEAR'S Queen's Speech to Parliament for the introduction of a new High Speed Line to the north.

    It could use the disused track bed of the former Great central Line from near Princes Risborough, tying in with the West Coast Main Line at Rugby (for Birmingham via Coventry) then going via Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield (branch to Manchester & Liverpool via the exisiting Woodhead Tunnel) to Leeds and Newcastle

    EUR ING Allan Carter CEng., MICE

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