"We'll be starting up for physics in May 2008, as always foreseen, and will commission the machine to full energy in one go," said LHC project leader Lyn Evans.

The €6.3bn Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be the world's largest particle accelerator, colliding protons at energies of 14 TeV to generate what physicists hope will be a slew of new particles, such as the Higgs boson and so-called supersymmetric particles.

During construction, however, the accelerator has suffered repeated delays. CERN was caught out in 2001 when it emerged that the LHC was to cost 30% more than originally envisaged and was also running behind schedule. The committee that reviewed CERN's operations in the light of these overruns recommended that the collider's start date be put back from 2005 to 2007. Then, in March this year, a test of one of the magnets built by Fermilab in the US failed during a high-pressure test, which was designed to simulate the "quenching" that can occur when proton beams career off course into the magnets.

Although repair of the faulty magnet is currently in progress, CERN spokesperson James Gillies told Physics Web earlier this month that the delay would force CERN to cancel the low-energy "engineering run", which was scheduled to take place in November. The machine's operators were planning to use the low-energy run as an opportunity to gain experience steering the protons and detecting collisions before high-energy collisions take place.

CERN have now officially announced the cancellation of the engineering run, and now plan to slowly bring the LHC up to full-energy proton collisions after it starts up in May. "There's no big red button when you're starting up a new accelerator, but we aim to be seeing high energy collisions by the summer," said Evans.

Currently, one of the eight sectors of the LHC has been cooled to its operating temperature of 1.9 K, and CERN say that cooling of a second sector is underway.