HL Deb 28 February 1997 vol 578 c118WA
Lord Berkeley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What changes would have to be made to the design of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to cater for future upgrade to about 350 kph, particularly in respect of geometry of track layouts, track design, and overhead line equipment, for the sections Channel Tunnel to Ebbsfleet, Ebbsfleet to Stratford, and Stratford to St. Pancras.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen)

The maximum speed capability of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will vary at different locations throughout the route; 270 kph is likely to be the normal maximum, but there may be short sections where there is an opportunity to reach higher speeds and other sections where lower limits are required. A future upgrade to permit speeds up to 350 kph, would require substantial alterations to the track layout and design and to overhead line equipment. Additional land would probably be needed to allow for: curves to be slackened; a flatter alignment; a greater separation of the tracks; larger diameter tunnels; possible addition of separate domestic tracks at certain locations; and the increased levels of mitigation that would be necessary. Any such alterations would have to meet the provisions of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996; of the environmental minimum requirements associated with the project; of the various undertakings and assurances given during the passage of the Act; and, in particular, of the assurance that I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, during the Second Reading debate on 21 May 1996 that the alignment of the CTRL would not be changed by an order under the Transport & Works Act 1992[Official Report: 21/5/96 col. 837]. London & Continental Railways have, I understand, no plans to design the railway for the speeds suggested by the noble Lord.