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EU law could force tunnel and platform changes

BRITAIN IS rushing to limit the effects of a new European inspired law which could force Railtrack to widen tunnels and lengthen station platforms on its high speed railway lines.

Senior rail industry figures are angry that the government has failed to consult sooner on the implementation of the directive, which is due to come into force in September.

The original consultation document was only issued by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR) on 30 April, even though the deadline for implementing the directive expired two years ago.

The directive could be the 'thin edge of the wedge' to force the UK to lengthen platforms and widen tunnels to European standards, according a senior UK railway figure involved in the consultation.

The DETR is steering the consultation exercise on implementing the directive.

The legislation could require tunnels to be widened to European standards and platforms to be lengthened to conform to the European 400m minimum, said a railway industry source.

'This could be the thin edge of the wedge. We have been allowed exemptions so far on the loading gauge affecting tunnel sizes and platform lengths, ' said a rail industry source 'But there is significant pressure now coming from the EU to bring these into line by 2010.

What we must avoid is some over-arching standard which we would have to comply with, ' he said.

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