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High Speed 1 (HS1), officially known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), is a 108-kilometre (67-mile) high-speed railway line running from Londonmarker through Kentmarker to the British end of the Channel Tunnelmarker.

The second and final section of the line, travelling across the River Thames and into London St Pancrasmarker, opened on 14 November 2007. Built at a cost of £5.2bn, the new link allows trains to travel at speeds of , cutting pre-2003 Eurostar journey times by 40 minutes and increasing service frequency. It is now possible to travel from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nordmarker in 2 hours 15 minutes, and to Brussels Southmarker in 1 hour 51 minutes.

There are intermediate stations at and Ebbsfleetmarker, and one at Stratfordmarker which opened to domestic services in November 2009.

In addition to international Eurostar services, domestic high speed commuter services are scheduled to start in December 2009. A preview service started in June 2009. The fleet of 29 Class 395 trains are able to reach speeds of .

Early history

A high-speed rail line, LGV Nord, has been in operation between the Channel Tunnelmarker and the outskirts of Paris since the Tunnel's opening in 1994. This has enabled Eurostar rail services to travel at 300 km/h (186 mph) for this part of their journey. A similar high-speed line from the French border to Brussels, HSL 1, opened in 1997. However, in Britain Eurostar trains had to run at much lower speeds on existing tracks between London and the Channel Tunnel. These tracks were shared with local traffic, limiting the number of services that could be run, as well as their timings. The elderly nature of some of this rail infrastructure caused a disproportionate number of delays, limiting the potential and appeal of the Eurostar service. The case for a High Speed line of equal caliber to the continental part of the route was recognised by lawmakers and advised by industry, and the construction of the line was authorised by Parliament with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996 which was amended by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 2008.

The original plan for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link involved a tunnel reaching London from the south-east, and an underground terminus in the vicinity of Kings Cross stationmarker. However a late change in the plans, principally driven by the then deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine's desire for urban regeneration in East Londonmarker, led to a change of route, with the new line approaching London from the east. This opened the possibility of reusing the underused St Pancras stationmarker as the terminus, with access via the North London Line that crosses the throat of the station.

The idea of using the North London line proved illusory, and it was rejected in 1994 by the then transport secretary, John MacGregor, as difficult to construct and environmentally damaging. However the idea of using St Pancras station as the core of the new terminus was retained, albeit now linked by 20 km (12 miles) of specially built tunnels to Dagenhammarker via Stratfordmarker.

London and Continental Railways (LCR) was selected by the UK government in 1996 to undertake construction of the line, as well as the reconstruction of St Pancras station as its terminus, and to take over the British share of the Eurostar operation, Eurostar (UK). The original LCR consortium members were National Express Group, Virgin Group, S. G. Warburg & Co, Bechtel and London Electric. Whilst the project was under development by British Rail it was managed by Union Railways, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of LCR. On 14 November 2006, LCR assigned High Speed 1 as the brand name for the completed railway. Official legislation, documentation and line-side signage has continued to refer to "CTRL" however.

The project

The legal framework for the new railway line lies in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996 providing construction powers that ran for the following 10 years. Originally the whole route was to be constructed as a single project. However extensive changes came when the British government had to put together a rescue plan. In 1998 serious financial difficulties had been encountered, the future looked uncertain for the project. To reduce risk it was split into two separate phases, to be managed by Union Railways (South) and Union Railways (North). A recovery programme was agreed whereby LCR sold government-backed bonds worth £1.6bn to pay for the construction of section 1, with the future of section 2 still looking in doubt.

The original intention had been for the new railway, once completed, to be run by Union Railways as a separate line to the rest of the British railway network. However as part of the 1998 rescue plan it was agreed that, following completion, section 1 would be purchased by Railtrack, along with an option to purchase section 2. In return, Railtrack was committed to operate the whole route as well as St Pancras railway stationmarker which, unlike all other former British Rail stations, was transferred to LCR/Union Railways in 1996.

In 2001, Railtrack announced that, due to its own financial problems, it would not undertake to purchase section 2 once it was completed. This triggered a second restructuring. The 2002 plan agreed that the two sections would have different infrastructure owners (Railtrack for section 1, LCR for section 2) but with common management by Railtrack. Following yet further financial problems at Railtrack its interest in the CTRL was sold back to LCR who then sold the operating rights for the completed line to Network Rail, Railtrack's successor. Under this arrangement LCR will become the sole owner of both sections of the CTRL and the St Pancras property, as per the original 1996 plan. Amendments were made in 2001 for the new station at Stratford International and through connections to the West Coast Main Linemarker.

As a consequence of the project's restructuring the LCR consortium is, , construction firms Arup, Bechtel, Halcrow and Systra (who form Rail Link Engineering (RLE)), transport operators National Express Group and SNCF (who operate the Eurostar (UK) share of the Eurostar service with the National Railway Company of Belgium and British Airways), electricity company EDF and UBS Investment Bank. On completion of section 1 by RLE, the line was handed over to Union Railways (South), who then handed it over to London & Continental Stations and Property (LCSP) who are the long term owners of the line. Once section 2 of the line had been completed it was handed over to Union Railways (North) who handed it over to LCSP. Management, operation and maintenance of the entire line, including St Pancras, is undertaken by Network Rail.

In February 2006 there were strong rumours that a 'third party' (believed to be a consortium headed by banker Sir Adrian Montague) had expressed an interest in buying out the present partners in the project. LCR shareholders subsequently rejected the proposal, and the Government, who effectively could overule shareholders' decisions as a result of LCR's reclassification as a state-owned body, decided that discussions with shareholders would not take place imminently, effectively backing shareholders' views on the proposed takeover.

On 12 October 2009 a proposal to sell 16-billion-pounds of state assets including the Channel Tunnel rail link to cut UK public debt was announced.


Section 1 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, opened on 28 September 2003, is a 74 km (46 mile) section of high-speed track from the Channel Tunnelmarker to Fawkham Junctionmarker in north Kentmarker. The section's completion cut the London–Paris journey time by around 21 minutes, to 2h 35mn. The line includes the Medway Viaductmarker, a 1.2 km (¾ mile) bridge over the River Medway and the North Downs Tunnelmarker, a 3.2 km (2 mile) long, 12 m (40 ft) diameter tunnel. In safety testing on the section prior to opening, a new UK rail speed record of 334.7 km/h (208.0 mph) was set. Much of the new high-speed line runs alongside the M2 and M20 motorways through Kent. After completion, Eurostar trains continued to use suburban lines to enter London, arriving at Waterloo Internationalmarker.

Section 2 of the project opened on 14 November 2007 and is a 39.4 km (24 mile) stretch of track from the newly built Ebbsfleetmarker station in Kent to London St Pancras. Completion of the section cut journey times by a further 20 minutes (London–Paris in 2h 15m; London–Brussels in 1h 51m). The route starts with a 2.5 km (1.5 mile) tunnel which dives under the Thames near Dartfordmarker, then runs alongside the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway as far as Dagenhammarker, where it enters a 19 km (12 mile) tunnel ( ), before emerging over the East Coast Main Line near St Pancras. The tunnels are divided into London East and London West sections, between which a 1 km stretch runs close to the surface to serve Stratford International and the Temple Mills Depot.

The new depot at Temple Mills, to the north of Stratford, replaced the North Pole depotmarker in the west of London. In testing, the first Eurostar train ran into St Pancras on 6 March 2007. All CTRL connections are fully grade-separate. This is achieved through use of viaducts, bridges, cuttings and in one case, the tunnel portal itself. Along the route, several key and unique design features have emerged.

St Pancras International

Eurostar train at St Pancras International Railway Station
The terminus for the high speed line in London is St Pancras railway stationmarker. During the 2000s, towards the end of the construction of the CTRL, the entire station complex was renovated, expanded and rebranded as St Pancras International, with a new security-sealed terminal area for Eurostar trains to continental Europe. In addition it retained traditional domestic connections to the north and south of Englandmarker. The new extension doubled the length of the central platforms now used for Eurostar services; new platforms have been provided for existing domestic East Midlands Trains and the Southeastern high-speed services that run along High Speed 1 to Kent. New platforms on the Thameslink line across London were built beneath the western margins of the station and the station at King's Cross Thameslinkmarker was closed.

A complex junction has been constructed north of St Pancras with connections to the East Coast Main Line, North London Line (for West Coast Main Linemarker) and Midland Main Line, allowing for a wide variety of potential destinations albeit on conventional rails. As part of the works, tunnels connecting the East Coast Main Line to the Thameslink route were also built.

London Tunnels

After local protests, early plans were modified to put more of the route into tunnels up until a point approximately from St. Pancras, previously the CTRL was planned to run on an elevated section alongside the North London Line on approach into the line's terminus. The twin tunnels bored under London were driven from Stratfordmarker westwards towards St Pancras, eastwards towards Dagenhammarker and from Dagenham westwards to connect with the tunnel from Stratford. The tunnel boring machines were 120 m long and weighed 1,100 tonnes. The depth of the tunnel varies from 24 m to 50 m.

Stratford International

The tunnel sections under London are interrupted by the new Stratford International railway stationmarker, which was not part of the original government plans for the CTRL.Completed in April 2006, it opened on the 30 November 2009 when the domestic preview Southeastern high speed services started stopping here.. An extension of the Docklands Light Railway will open mid-2010, after which some Eurostar international services are expected to stop. It will also be the railway station for the main site where the 2012 Summer Olympics will be held. Temple Mills Depot, where the Eurostar trains are stored and serviced, is adjacent and is accessed via a concourse running through the station.

Connection to Waterloo

A 4 km (2.4 mile) connecting line providing access for Waterloo railway station leaves High Speed 1 at Southfleet Junction using a grade-separated junction; the main CTRL tracks continue uninterrupted through to CTRL Section 2 underneath the southbound flyover. The connection joins the Chatham Main Line at Fawkham Junctionmarker with a flat crossing. The retention of Eurostar services to Waterloo after the line to St Pancras opened was ruled out on cost grounds. Waterloo Internationalmarker closed upon opening of the section two of the CTRL in November 2007; Eurostar now serves the refurbished St Pancras as its only London terminal.

Ebbsfleet International

Ebbsfleet International railway stationmarker is a railway station in Ebbsfleet Valleymarker, in the borough of Dartfordmarker, Kentmarker, 10 miles outside the eastern boundary of Greater Londonmarker. The station opened to the public on 19 November 2007. Two of the platforms are designed to serve Eurostar's International trains and four platforms are available for high speed domestic services running upon the line. Since the opening of Ebbsfleet, Ashford Internationalmarker has seen a reduction in trains serving the station there, as Ebbsfleet is designed to take over as the main regional hub used by Eurostar.

Ashford International

Unlike normal LGV stations in France, the through tracks for Ashford International railway stationmarker are off to one side rather than going through, partly due to Ashford International predating the line. High Speed 1 approaches Ashford International from the north in a cut-and-cover "box"; the south-bound line rises out of this cutting and crosses over the main tracks to enter the station. The main tracks then rise out of the cutting and over a flyover. On leaving Ashford, southbound Eurostars return to the high speed line by travelling under this flyover and joining from the outside. The international platforms at Ashford are supplied with both overhead 25 kV and 3rd rail, avoiding the need to switch power-supplies.



The Eurostar service uses about 40% of the capacity of High Speed 1, and after the opening of the line in November 2007 the company's route for all their services. Trains run by Eurostar are for international traffic only, passing along the high speed line from London St Pancras railway stationmarker to the Channel Tunnelmarker, terminating at either Paris Gare de Nordmarker in France or Brussels Midi-Zuidmarker in Belgium. Currently the trains operated by Eurostar are the only ones to make full use of the high speeds upon the line; a Eurostar train was used to set a new British rail speed record of on 30 July 2003. The British component of Eurostar is owned by London and Continental Railways, which also owns High Speed 1 and the infrastructure upon it.
 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 373 Eurostar Electric multiple unit 186 300 28 LondonmarkerParismarker
London–Marne-la-Vallée – Chessymarker
London–Avignon Centre
London–Bourg Saint Mauricemarker



The domestic high speed services upon High Speed 1 are provided by the operator Southeastern. Having been in planning since 2004, a preview service of the British Rail Class 395 trains, popularly known Javelins, started in June 2009, and a regular service is scheduled to start in December 2009. The quickest journey time from Ashford to London St Pancras is 35 minutes compared with 60 minutes for the service to London Charing Cross via Tonbridge. This service on Section 2 of the CTRL, known previously as CTRL-DS, was a factor in London's successful 2012 Olympic Bid, promising a seven-minute journey time from the Olympic Park at Stratford to the London terminus at St Pancras. Although much of the train's route upon High Speed 1 is capable of , the maximum operating speed of the train is limited to and designed for very fast acceleration due to the short distance between stations and the service patterns.
 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 395 Javelin Electric multiple unit 140 225 29 St PancrasmarkerStratford Internationalmarker-

Ebbsfleet Internationalmarker-Ashford Internationalmarker-Ramsgatemarker/ Dover Priorymarker.

DB Schenker

DB Schenker is a global freight operator with a large interest in freight over rail in Europe. While High Speed 1 was constructed with passing loops for freight usage, no freight traffic had run upon the line since opening in 2003. On 16 April 2009 DB Schenker signed an agreement with HS1 Ltd, the owner of High Speed 1, for a partnership to develop TVM modifications for class 92 freight locomotives to run upon the line. Freight services are expected to begin early in 2010, after the signalling technology is made available to all potential operators, and the necessary logistics and support infrastructure to serve freight operations.

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 92 Electric locomotive 87 140 46 1993

Additional information

The CTRL connection at St Pancras Station in April 2007
The CTRL project was one of the United Kingdom's largest civil engineering projects, encompassing many new bridges and combined tunnels nearly as long as the Channel Tunnelmarker itself. During the construction of the CTRL a major archaeology project was conducted alongside the work. In 2002 the CTRL project was awarded the "Major Project Award" at the British Construction Industry Awards.

Both track and signalling technology (TVM-430 + KVB) are based on or identical to the standards used on the French LGV high-speed lines. The areas around St. Pancras and Gare du Nord use KVB signalling with the whole of the high-speed route to Paris (CTRL, Channel Tunnel, LGV Nord) using TVM-430. Signalling tests before opening were performed by the SNCF-owned "Lucie" test car.

The construction works were complex and a large number of contractors have been involved in delivering them. The CTRL Section 2 construction works have been causing considerable disruption around the Kings Cross area of London, but are bringing in their wake much redevelopment. The huge redevelopment area includes the run-down areas of post-industrial and ex-railway land close to King's Crossmarker and St Pancras, a conservation area with many listed buildings, this was promoted as one of the benefits for building the CTRL. However it has been postulated that this development was actually suppressed by the construction project, and some of the affected districts are still in a poor state.

There were a number of deaths of employees working on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link over the nine year and one month period of construction. A death occurred on Friday 28 March 2003 near Westernhanger, Folkestone where a worker came into contact with the energised power supply. Another death occurred in May 2003 when a scaffolder fell seven metres at Thurrock, Essex. This death resulted in three companies being found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation, omitting to provide barriers, which resulted in Deverson Direct Ltd of Stickfast Lane, Bobbing, Sittingbourne, Kent being ordered to pay £50,000 in fines and £5,851 costs; J Murphy and Sons Ltd of Highgate Road, London being ordered to pay £25,000 and costs of £2,925.50 and Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft of Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon being ordered to pay £25,000 and costs of £2,925.50. Two more deaths relate to a fire onboard a train carrying wires, one mile inside a tunnel under the Thames between Swanscombe, Kent, and Thurrock, Essex on Tuesday 16 August 2005. The train shunter died at the scene and the train driver later died in hospital on 20 August 2005. It has been suggested that a large amount of blame for accidents throughout the project lay with individual behaviour, becoming such a problem an internal programme was launched to tackle behaviour problems during the construction.

On 4 September 2007, a train travelled from Paris Gare du Nordmarker to St. Pancrasmarker in 2 hours 3 minutes and 39 seconds. On 19 September 2007, a train travelled from Brusselsmarker Southmarker to St. Pancrasmarker in 1 hour 43 minutes.

See also



Further reading

  • {{wikicite|id=Parliament|reference=

External links

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