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Revive London/Scotland rail link, demands CfIT

PLANS FOR a London to Scotland high speed rail line should be immediately revived, the government's key transport advisor said this week.

The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) said that the government and Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) should start planning now for a network of high speed links.

In a report published this week it said that schemes that offer good value for money should be 'actively pursued'.

The report believes that the case for a London to Scotland high speed line would be strong if costs could be cut and the wider national economic effects of major projects were included in scheme appraisals.

Official SRA plans for the £36bn scheme have been shelved amid fears over the escalating costs of rail projects (NCE 29 January).

But the Commission believes that staged construction of the line would cut 20% to 30% off costs.

Better project management and use of possession time, and avoidance of over specification could save a further 20%. Overhauling the approvals regime could save a further 5% in project management costs, it claims.

CfIT also believes that costs may have been overestimated by between 5% and 15% as a result of using the Channel Tunnel Rail Link as a basis for analysis.

If all the cost savings materialise, benefits could outweigh the costs by three or four to one, says CfIT. The SRA puts the benefit to cost ratio at two.

A new high speed line could carry up to 220 trains a day, more than twice the number on the upgraded West Coast Main Line.

INFOPLUS www. nceplus.co.uk

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