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Tube links may hinder transport integration

RAILTRACK'S PROPOSAL to link London Underground's subsurface lines with the national rail network could lead to further fragmentation of transport in the capital rather than greater integration, it was claimed this week.

And senior rail industry sources told NCE that the company may be overstretching itself by taking on the £3.2bn Tube upgrade, leading to a slowdown in investment and delays to other major projects.

Jonathan Bray, of the lobby group Save Our Railways, said: 'The Tube is well-used capacity-wise, and there is a risk that capacity will be reduced to make way for new premium services.'

He suggested the Circle Line may be used for a new link between the City and Heathrow Airport.

'The existing Heathrow Express isn't integrated, you can't use travel cards on it and it is the most expensive rail journey per mile in the UK,' he added.

London First director of Transport Irving Yass said: 'We've been supportive in principle of Railtrack's proposals. But we're worried that it is too interlinked with other schemes. There is a risk it will get bogged down because it's all too complicated.'

He added: 'There is also a fear that Railtrack could get diverted from the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. There is a huge amount of project management to be done, and there is clearly a risk that the company will be spread too thinly.'

A senior rail industry source said: 'Railtrack is already relying too much on external advisers and London Underground will draw very heavily on senior management time.'

A spokeswoman for Railtrack retorted: 'Obviously, we would not have put the proposal together if we didn't think we could deliver it.'

See feature page 18

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