Sleepers abandoned

first_imgLONDON & Continental Railways Ltd, the company charged with building the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, confirmed on July 9 that it had abandoned plans to operate overnight sleeper trains to Paris from Glasgow, Swansea and Plymouth. LCR Chief Executive Adam Mills promised that ’we will bring the regional Eurostar day services to Paris into operation as soon as the testing and commissioning programmes currently under way are completed’, but ’we have concluded that a night service from the regions is simply not viable.’While an LCR spokesman described overnight trains linking London to Amsterdam and Frankfurt as ’still under review’, three years after the Channel Tunnel opened there is still no firm date for the endlessly-delayed Eurostar services north of London. Day and night trains were promised by ministers seeking to refute claims that the Tunnel would benefit the prosperous Southeast at the expense of the regions. Subsequent investment in overnight and regional Eurostar services by taxpayers in France, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Britain has certainly exceeded £500m with not a penny in revenue to show for it so far, let alone operating profits.While the seven regional Eurostars could be used elsewhere, the 139 overnight cars ordered in July 1992 are being delivered for secure long term storage to the same military depot that was home to other new rolling stock which fell foul of Railtrack’s safety case regime. Extreme attitudes to safety and security are mainly to blame for this fiasco. With flexibility, surplus BR sleepers could have provided a start-up service to test the new market. Regional Eurostars are being kept out of service because of pantograph arcing which breaches new signal interference limits, though it is no worse than locomotives that have been running for decades without problems. And when they do finally run, LCR will be unable to sell empty seats to domestic travellers in case they leave a bomb on board. olast_img

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