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UK's ballasted train tracks need replacing with concrete for high speed, claims concrete group

Government aspirations for a 200mph high-speed rail service modelled on the Japanese bullet trains could fail if the right rail track is not provided warned transport infrastructure group Britpave today.

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.

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