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Mainline trains will travel over improved London Underground lines to reach the heart of the capital in a£5bn plan...
Mainline trains will travel over improved London Underground lines to reach the heart of the capital in a£5bn plan being prepared by deputy prime minister John Prescott and Railtrack, reported The

Sunday Telegraph (p1). The highly ambitious proposals would connect the District and Circle lines to the surface rail network through new tunnels.

The project, which will cost as much as the Channel tunnel rail link currently under construction, is expected to take more than a decade to complete. It will involve replacing all the track and signalling

along the affected tub lines as well as building up to four miles of new tunnels and widening and deepening existing ones. The new network is expected to cut commuting times to the centre of London by 30 minutes or more. As well as saving the time of changing trains at London terminals, the new Tube trains will be able to run much faster because of computerised signalling.

The project is designed to lure commuters off congested roads around London. Analysts estimate it could cut car journeys by up to one million a day. Mr Prescott and Gerald Corbett, Railtrack chief

executive, are expected to hold a series of meetings this week to finalise details of the scheme, which will be the cornerstone of Mr Prescott's vision for integrated transport policy.

The project is expected to be announced early next year. The government is trying to rush through the deal before a new mayor of London is elected. Under the scheme, Railtrack would buy a large part of the Tube network, though London Underground would continue to operayte its trains. Railtrack would then build new tunnels to connect with the mainline system it already owns.

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