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What the papers say - THE TIMES

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Regional rail lines 'ought to get the Beeching treatment', a rail industry leader said this week. James Sherwood, president of Sea Containers, owner of rail operator GNER, said that the cost of running little used regional rail lines is bankrupting the industry. There are 400 stations in the network that are used by fewer than 25 passengers a day. Yet the public subsidy to the railway industry has more than tripled to £4bn a year since privatisation eight years ago.

India has signed up alongside 23 other nations, including China and Japan, to construct a new Asian Highway Network, which will recreate the ancient Silk Route linking Istanbul, via Tehran, Kandahar, Islamabad, Delhi, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Xian and Beijing to Tokyo. The route would link existing roads, at least 20% of which need upgrading.

The Treasury has agreed to lend £370M directly to private finance investors to build two new hospitals in Leeds and Portsmouth in a bid to cut the cost of borrowing in PFI projects by a tenth. These savings will be made on the rate of interest charged by banks for borrowing - the government is able to attract preferential interest rates.

The International Olympic Committee has issued a final warning to the Greek government giving it a deadline of 20 May to complete the main stadium roof. If it fails to do so, all construction will be halted, leaving athletes and spectators to swelter in the heat.

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