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Experts draw up £30bn London to Scotland rail link plans

A £30 billion rail link, reducing London to Scotland journey times to three hours, should be built, a report compile by the Institution of Civil Engineers has recommended.
The high-speed link, with trains travelling up to 200mph, could be constructed over a period of 10 years, with the private sector contributing to its cost, the report said.

Building the link would help meet public expectations highlighted by a recent ICE poll which showed that 67 per cent of the public believe public transport will improve over the next 10 years.

The ICE has based its cost estimate for the new link on the £5.2 billion Kent coast to London Channel Tunnel Rail Link the second and final phase of which will be completed in 2007.

The report does not recommend a route that the new link would take, with the ICE preferring at this stage to concentrate on the feasibility of a link rather than exploring exactly where it could be built.

ICE spokesman Graeme Monteith said: 'High-speed rail should lead to a shift back to the railways for business and commuters, countering the massive recent growth in domestic air travel. Business will benefit from a faster train service and competition within the travel sector.'

The ICE added that the Government had stated in the Labour manifesto that it 'will look at the feasibility and affordability of a new north-south high-speed rail link'.

The ICE said it was urgings the Government to consider the benefits to the economy of a new route, as well as the potential savings from not building additional runways or motorways.

The fastest London-Scotland rail link at present is on Virgin's West Coast Main Line where Pendolino trains run at 125mph and have reduced London-Manchester journey times to two hours 13 minutes.

Yesterday, the high-speed tilting trains were finally launched on the London-Scotland line.

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