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From Liverpool to Manchester in 10 minutes; EXCLUSIVE pounds 220,000 study on hopes for supertrain.

Byline: By NEIL HODGSON Industry Reporter

A REVOLUTIONARY transport system that would connect Liverpool and Manchester in less than 10 minutes has moved a step closer. m Backers of the 311mph maglev are setting up a pounds 220,000 feasibility study, which could be completed by early May.

UK Ultraspeed is proposing the route and is working with The Mersey Partnership to find public and private backers to help foot the bill.

The announcement was being made today at the EuroRail 2008 conference in Milan by UK Ultraspeed chief executive Dr Alan James.

It is based on the transrapid magnetic levitation (maglev) system which floats carriages carrying more than 1,000 passengers over a single path, propelled by electro-magnets.

Dr James described the high-speed technology as "the inter city travel system of the future."

And he said the Liverpool-Manchester link could prove the case for a pounds 16bn line connecting London with major British cities, including Liverpool.

Dr James told his international audience of senior railway executives about the study into stage one of the network.

He said: "I am delighted we have made this breakthrough on the route section linking Liverpool and Manchester.

"In 1830, George Stephenson built the world's first inter-city transport link between these two great cities.

"His 30mph Liverpool and Manchester railway took journeys that could take a day and turned them into a matter of hours.

"Our 300mph maglev takes those hours and turns them into minutes."

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jack Stopforth is a keen maglev supporter after riding a test system in Germany.

Dr James said: "I salute the vision of The Mersey Partnership. I also applaud the drive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce in putting maglev so forcefully on the north west agenda and their tenacity in keeping it there."

Mr Stopforth, a non-executive member of The Mersey Partnership board, said: "We are delighted that the north west is leading the UK.

"It is so important because it is not just a transport system, but could be the catalyst in producing a change in the economic development of the whole of the north of Britain."

Maglev would connect London-Birmingham-Manchester in 50 minutes and Glasgow to Edinburgh in under 15 minutes. A Transrapid system already runs between Liverpool's twin city of Shanghai and its remote airport, taking seven minutes 23 seconds for a journey that can take an hour by road.

UK Ultraspeed has so far invested more than pounds 2m in developing the case for a UK maglev network.

The next step is a more detailed study of stage one routes, and the first is the Liverpool link.

Dr James said it could follow the Manchester Ship Canal route to link the two airports, before crossing the Pennines to Leeds.

He said: "Liverpool to Manchester and Leeds is a great first step.

"It's a privilege to be treading the same ground as Stephenson."

neilhodgson@liverpoolecho.co.uk

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FAST TRACK: Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jack Stopforth is a keen supporter of the maglev trains, such as this one running in Shanghai
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2008
Words:514
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