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Ultraspeed keeps faith with maglev


HIGH SPEED rail firm UK Ultraspeed this week vowed to press ahead with its proposed north south maglev link, despite last month's fatal crash in Germany.

A spokesman insisted that the accident had not had a noticeable impact on support for its proposals which would see a 840km maglev scheme built between England and Scotland.

Discussions have taken place over many months with politicians at national and local level, and are still on-going, ' the spokesman said. 'On the day of the accident the Association of North East Councils vowed to consider all high speed rail options including maglev in its 2006/7 manifesto.' Last month, 23 people died when a Transrapid maglev train crashed into a service vehicle left on the 32km Emsland test track. Operator IABG claimed this was the result of human error (News last week).

China, the home of the world's only commercial maglev last week sent a team to the site of the accident to learn from the tragedy.

The idea for Maglev rail systems has been around a century but so far none has really been developed commercially. The technology requires separate infrastructure network meaning trains cannot pass on to existing domestic lines.

To date, pioneering lines in the Netherlands, Germany and America have all been abandoned due to high cost of development and construction.

Ultraspeed estimates that the total capital cost of the proposed UK scheme, including land acquisition, is £29bn. However Chancellor Gordon Brown has estimated a cost of £66bn for the same work.

Sir Rod Eddington's forthcoming report on the strategic economic importance of transport is expected to determine the future of Maglev in the UK.

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