On time, on budget (no, really)

It is Britain's first new main line for 100 years, and by contrast with the West Coast Main Line fiasco, is arriving in time and on budget.

The 46 miles of track, the first part of Britain's high-speed Channel tunnel link, runs from Folkestone to Fawkham Junction in north Kent. The £1.7bn project is now more than 90 per cent complete and is on schedule to be operational in September next year.

Ironically, it is being built by Railtrack.

The original project, authorised in the 1980s, was delayed amid environmental and financial concerns. But it became the biggest UK civil engineering achievement since London's Jubilee Line.

It was undertaken by the private sector, with Amec SPIE rail systems building the track and the CCA consortium the signalling and controls systems.

The line will eventually help knock an hour off the three-hour journey time to Paris. Its second stage, from Stratford, east London, to St Pancras, is underway.

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