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Railtrack gains cheaper rail link but loses second director

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Railtrack's director of property Bob Hill has left the company 'to pursue other interests'. The news follows hard on the heels of the departure of Gil Howarth, the company's director of major projects, who was tipped to lead its attempt to build a new, cheaper Channel Tunnel Rail Link, revealed this week.

A circular to Railtrack staff said that Hill had left because of the reorganisation of the property directorate and the transfer of major stations and estate management to the regions. Howarth had left for similar reasons.

Meanwhile Railtrack is looking at a 'series of options' before making a bid to the government to build the ctrl. One of these would, it said, cut the cost to £1.3million for a version which would take the high-speed element only halfway to London and take a completely different route south on existing track. The earlier London and Continental plan had envisaged a northerly route into a redeveloped St Pancras station and new stations at Ebbsfleet and Stratford, with a separate tunnel under the Thames. All these would be scrapped, while a mammoth 790,000m2 mixed-use scheme around Ebbsfleet being worked on by Terry Farrell and Partners (aj 22.1.98) also looks in jeopardy if the northern route is abandoned. A new site for a station in North Kent may be the answer, although Railtrack's time may be taken up with a bid to take over all or part of London Undergound's infrastructure, which may be offered to the private sector.

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