A lot of time, money and hard work have gone into the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, but now the project is nearing completion.
Some of the results are already visible, but passengers won't fully appreciate the difference this £5.8bn scheme will make until the first trains start running next year.
Scheduled to be completed on time and within budget, the challenge now is to prepare the route for this next milestone.
This will be the first dedicated high speed link in the UK, and will be called High Speed 1. From 14 November 2007, Eurostar trains will run to St Pancras International rather than Waterloo, delivering faster journey times for international passengers. From 2009, the domestic highspeed services will reduce commuter journey times from Kent by up to 35 minutes. During the 2012 Olympics, the link will provide the Olympic Javelin service, transferring passengers between St Pancras International and Stratford International in less than eight minutes.
As well as these improved passenger services, High Speed 1 will deliver substantial regeneration benefits.
It will support an estimated 100,000 new jobs, 18,000 new homes and more than 40M square feet of ofce space along its route.
The excellent progress so far demonstrates that we look to the future of this magnicent project with condence and pride.
Tom Harris Rail Minister