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40 day countdown to full Network Rail control

MANAGEMENT OF the rail network will go through a 40 day 'shadow running' period before Railtrack replacement Network Rail takes full control, the company said this week.

Last week Network Rail paid Railtrack Group £500M for infrastructure operator Railtrack PLC, after the company was released from administration by the High Court.

Top priority for Network Rail is to make changes to its inherited management structure. But this requires changes to the company's Safety Case, also inherited from Railtrack.

But by law these must be approved by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Network Rail has applied for the changes to be made - which include dropping the name Railtrack - and approval is expected to be granted in 40 working days.

At the moment Railtrack is officially described as being part of the Network Rail group of companies.

In the interim, management changes will operate in shadow form, the most significant being the new management board.

Of 11 new board appointments, seven are engineers, and six have substantial railways experience.

The board will be responsible for delivering an ambitious business plan, which sets out an initial 18 month intensive programme to stabilise the business and analyse the costs and causes of cost overruns.

Railtrack's removal from administration, allowed London & Continental Railways to complete the acquisition of Railtrack Group's interests in section one of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link for £375M.

Section one runs from North Kent to the Channel Tunnel.

LCR had now regained control of the project for the first time since the project ran into financial difficulties in 1998.

Network Rail now takes charge of the operation, maintenance and renewal of Britain's rail infrastructure on a not-for-profit basis, while Railtrack Group will liquidate itself to pay off shareholders.

The company is committed to building a full asset register of the nation's entire rail infrastructure, the lack of which is one of the main attributing factors to cost overruns on the West Coast Main Line project.

The company has identified that it needs £17.2bn over the next two years to run the network, financed by bank loans and bonds.

INFOPLUS www. networkrail. com

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