In his article on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (NCE 5 March), Sydney Lenssen asks why we as a nation want to spend 5bn to cut 35 minutes off the journey time and end up in St Pancras instead of Waterloo. The main reason is that most people in Britain do not live in London, and St Pancras is much closer to Euston and Kings Cross stations. At present people travelling from the Midlands, the North and Scotland have to rely on the Underground or taxis to travel between their London terminal station and Waterloo. I would be unwilling to book a connecting train at Waterloo as the time to cross central London can only be estimated. Moreover the proposed link will also connect to the West Coast Main Line so that direct services can be provided between our provincial cities and the Continent. The track realignment and resignalling which Mr Lenssen proposes for passengers north of Watford is a poor substitute.
Mike Hodgkinson (F), 32 Clifton Road, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 4SZ
I feel it is time to dispel some of the myths about the CTRL which are being perpetuated by Sydney Lenssen. The concession granted to LCR was not only to build and operate the Eurostar link between St Pancras and Cheriton but also to operate a commuter railway through Kent to improve the terrible service currently offered.
It is this commuter railway, and the government subsidy required to run it, which make the CTRL project viable. Eurostar on the CTRL will never run at a profit as a stand alone business, especially now that air fares in Europe have been deregulated. All the puff about Waterloo is ridiculous, since although the station may have capacity, the tracks into the station are fully loaded with existing train services, and cannot take the proposed increase in traffic from Eurostar, let alone more Kent commuter traffic, especially at peak hours which could attract premium rates.
St Pancras currently operates three trains an hour in the rush hour from eight platforms and so has capacity for a huge increase in traffic. It is the only terminus in London with such capacity. If we are to persuade commuters off the roads, we must provide additional good quality capacity. The CTRL must be built in its entirety, or not at all. Not building it will be a huge set back for the well perceived necessity for improving the public transport infrastructure, so Mr Prescott should sit all the parties down together, make the deal, and get the link built now.
JR Spedding (G), 40 Chequers Road, Writtle, Chelmsford CM1 3NQ