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Civil engineering in the news - Monday 29 December

The transport minister, Lord Adonis, is proposing a 200mph high-speed rail service modelled on the bullet trains pioneered in Japan in the 1960s...

He believes there is a strong case for building a £20bn high-speed line that would cut journey times from London to Manchester, one of Britain’s most congested routes, from 2hr 7min to just 80min. The plans have been given impetus by a visit Adonis made with Iain Coucher, the head of Network Rail, to Japan last month. "Britain has a lot to learn from Japan about high-speed rail," Adonis said. "In Japan it has been a powerful force for economic regeneration and national pride. It could be the same in Britain." - The Sunday Times

A tenth of the UK’s power plants could be forced to close by the spring of 2013 – two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, new research shows. Under an EU directive, companies operating old coal and oil-fired plants were given the option to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to upgrade them to comply with tougher pollution standards. Those that “opted out” of the programme - nine plants representing about 15% of UK power supply - were given 20,000 hours to operate, starting from January last year through to the end of 2015. Based on research from the energy-consultancy group Utilyx, several of these plants have been running at historically high rates that would put them out of commission much sooner than originally thought - The Sunday Times

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