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Learn a lesson from Newcastle


I read with interest your article on light rail (NCE 17 February) and its importance in the context of achieving a balanced transportation network for the UK.

I was disappointed not to find the Nexus's metro network in Newcastle mentioned and, in particular, the new extension through Sunderland to South Hylton. It has several features:

It is a good example of how public-private partnership can fund such schemes - drawing in this case on EU, UK Government and Railtrack investment;

It is a good example of how private expertise in rail engineering and construction expertise inside Railtrack can be leveraged to support and deliver societal benefit, coupled with Nexus's expertise in operating a successful metro network; and

Finally, and perhaps from an engineering point, the most interesting facet is the way in which the new Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) technology is enabling the combination of metro and standard rail traffic on the same infrastructure. This helps reduce construction cost and land- take considerably - and could enable light rail to come to fruition in marginal cases.

Moreover, since TPWS is to be fitted nationwide by the end of 2002, this opens the prospects of extending metro services more widely on to the main rail network - truly integrating transport solutions.

Nicholas Pollard, director, Railtrack, London North Eastern, Euston Square, London, NW1 2EE

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