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Learning English - Words in the News
15 November, 2007 - Published 17:23 GMT
High Speed One opens
A Eurostar train at London's St Pancras station

A new high speed rail link between London and Paris has brought the two capitals closer together, shaving 20 minutes off the journey time. The link that starts at London's St Pancras station also cuts 25 minutes off the journey time to Brussels. This report from Rob Broomby:

Listen to the story

The French opened their stretch of the high speed line back in 1993, a year before the tunnel under the English Channel itself opened. The high speed line to Brussels was finished in 1997; and now, ten years after that, Britain has finally caught up with its 12 billion dollar line High Speed One.

At 11:01 the First Eurostar, named "Tread Lightly" to emphasise the environmental advantage of rail travel, edged smoothly out of the station heading for Paris. Just minutes later, the first fast train arrived from Brussels and passengers spilled out onto the platform to give their first impressions of the journey:

PASSENGERS: Great, yeah, very fast and… it's fantastic. Great, you said right - it was a wonderful journey.

But much of the excitement here has focused not on the fast links to Europe but on the lovingly refurbished Victorian train-shed - a jewel from the age of steam - now sporting what claims to be the longest champagne bar in Europe, and it sits under what was when built the largest single span roof in the world.

But most of Britain's mainline trains trundle along at nothing like the 186 miles per hour of the Eurostar. Rail enthusiasts are already asking, if this is High Speed One, when will there be a High Speed Two? The answer is still, no time soon.

Rob Broomby, BBC

Listen to the words

caught up with
here, got, received ('to catch up' means to do something you couldn't do earlier)

Tread Lightly
behave carefully to avoid upsetting or causing offence to anyone or anything (here, to be environmentally friendly)

to emphasise the environmental advantage of rail travel
to make sure people understand that taking a train causes less harm to the environment than some other means of transportation, e.g. an airplane

edged smoothly out of
left/departed from with no interruption or difficulty

heading for
going to

spilled out
came out (here, of the train) in large numbers

lovingly refurbished
rebuilt and redecorated by builders with fondness

a jewel from the age of steam
a unique and remarkable building that was built when trains were still powered by steam engines

featuring, having

trundle along at nothing like
move at speeds far less than

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