ENGINEERS MUST find ways to cut the cost of building high speed rail lines in Britain if a new, fast link to Scotland is to be built, a leading pro-rail group said this week.
They should work out how to cut £15bn to £20bn from the value of the project, currently costed at around £40bn, said the Railway Forum.
The ICE this week launched a report calling for the construction of an 800km high speed rail route which would halve the journey time between Scotland and London to three hours.
But Railway Forum director general Adrian Lyons said that the project's £40bn price tag was too high to ever win Treasury support. 'The really big question is why other countries can build these things cheaply yet in Britain we are through the roof, ' he said.
The Commission for Integrated Transport has calculated that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is costing £50M/km, 2.12 times more expensive than average high speed rail lines in other countries, and 5.5 times the cost of Spain's Madrid to Lerida line.
'We have to ask blunt questions about why it costs so much here and take a good look at our processes and procedures, ' said Lyons.
'If we could build it at £25M/km then an overall price tag of £20bn over 60 years it is not impossible to justify and you've got a project. But if the price is stuck up at £40bn then it is out of the stratosphere.' Questions also remain over how to get the line connected to city centres. The ICE proposes Heathrow Express-style shuttles springing off a main spine.