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Civils complete on CTRL Section 1

01 Feb 2003

LONDON & Continental Railways marked completion of civil engineering work on Section 1 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link between the Channel Tunnel and Fawkham Junction on January 21 with a ceremony at Mersham near Ashford. Transport Minister John Spellar unveiled a plaque in a meadow created on a structure bridging the line and Network Rail's parallel Ashford - Folkestone main line in the heart of the village. Spellar then watched a Plasser & Theurer RGT15 ballast regulator undertaking one of the last trackwork operations.

This month sees the 25 kV 50Hz catenary energised between Detling and Sellindge, with further sections following progressively. Signalling at the interface with Eurotunnel and Network Rail is to go live at Cheriton on May 4 - 5, and TVM430 equipment should be installed and operational over the whole of Section 1 by the end of May, although the GSM-R radio masts have yet to be completed. This will pave the way for test running using North of London Eurostar sets; Eurostar will also be using the line for driver training. Tests at up to 330 km/h, 10% above maximum line speed, are planned after the Spring Bank Holiday, no doubt setting a new British speed record. The line is due to be handed over on July 1, and Chris Jago, Chief Executive of Union Railways (South), said 'we are still on time for opening on September 28'.

Describing CTRL as 'Britain's first truly high speed line', LCR Chief Executive Rob Holden drew attention to the nature of the project as a public-private partnership. He said government guarantees had enabled lower rates of interest, and that funding life matched the project life. Out-turn cost of Section 1 is £1·9bn, with Section 2 costing £3·3bn. Fastest London - Paris timing when Section 1 opens will be 2h 35min.H The Strategic Rail Authority has called tenders for supply and maintenance of 150 to 220 high speed 25 kV and 750V DC passenger vehicles for CTRL domestic services, as part of a planned 'integrated Kent franchise' due to start in January 2007. Options will be included for further vehicles.