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No decision on WCML phase two until next year

NO DECISION will be made on whether to scrap the final £4.2bn phase of the £6.5bn West Coast Main Line (WCML) upgrade until next year, it emerged this week.

Railtrack no longer has a say in the future of the project, which is now in the hands of Virgin Rail, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and Railtrack administrator Ernst & Young.

Virgin Rail co-chairman Richard Bowker last week confirmed to NCE that Virgin had been in talks with Railtrack about scrapping the second phase before the track operator went into administration.

He said the talks were to explore options for solving the problems on the WCML.

These included a proposal to scrap the second stage of the project (News last week) although he stressed that no decision had been taken.

Railtrack was removed from the negotiations when it was put in to administration.

It is thought a compromise will be reached over the upgrade which would enable train speeds to increase to 125mph rather than the 140mph originally stated in the contract.

A decision will be made after agreement is reached on subsidy, access and franchise length for the west coast main line.

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