The transport minister, Lord Adonis,has confirmed he is backing the building of a £20 billion high-speed line from London to Manchester, that would reduce the journey time from 2hr 7min to just 80min. His proposals come ahead of a government report to be published in the spring on the viability of a high-speed rail network in the UK.
However Britpave warned that changes in traditional rail construction would be needed if the plans are to succeed.
"If the Government plans for a high-speed rail network are to work then it must invest in the appropriate rail track technology," said director of Britpave David Jones. "The reason why the Japanese high-speed network is so successful is that, unlike the UK’s ballasted track, it is largely based on concrete slab track".
According to Britpave, when commencing the high-speed rail network 40 years ago, the Japanese government replaced much of their ballast system with concrete slab track. This provided a rail track that has maximised operating efficiency by eliminating unplanned maintenance, provided high levels of safety and comfort and impressive whole life costings.
"The inherent robustness, low-maintenance, long-term performance and whole-life cost benefits of concrete means that it can offer the rail tracks necessary to provide the high-speed rail network that Britain needs," said Jones.