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European high-speed rail taking shape in England

Brits are one step closer to traveling from London to the Channel Tunnel in 35 minutes — about half the time it currently takes — now that England Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott April 3 signed an in-principal agreement with London & Continental Railways Ltd. (LCR) and Railtrack to begin construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link’s (CTRL) Section 2.

"Back in 1998 I said that the time had come to stop talking and start digging," said Prescott in a prepared statement. "And this deal means that a whole lot more digging is about to start."

CTRL is England’s first high-speed railway being built from the Channel Tunnel to London, and is part of the Trans European Network — a plan to connect rail corridors across the European Union and carry Eurostar and domestic passengers, as well as some freight traffic.

Eurostar (UK) Ltd. (EUKL) is the name of the English arm of Eurostar service between London, Paris and Brussels, Belgium. Section 1 currently is two-and-a-half years into a planned five-year construction period, and will run from the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction in northwest Kent, where it will connect with an existing railway to Waterloo International Station. The $2.72 billion segment is 60 percent complete and on schedule to open in 2003 within budget.

Construction of $4.73 billion Section 2 is planned to begin in July and will include three new stations and more than 26 million square feet of industrial, commercial and retail space. Section 2 will complete the CTRL between Southfleet Junction and London St. Pancras.

Upon completion, Railtrack will own and operate Section 1; it will operate, but not own, Section 2 through an agreement with Union Railways (North) Ltd., an LCR subsidiary.

Completion of Section 2 is scheduled for 2007.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/3/2001