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All to play for

Although Railtrack will not actually take over the CTRL until the route is completed in 2003, it is already positioning itself as a highly informed client. The recent addition of former Tagus Bridge project director David Hartshorne as implementation manager beefs up Railtrack's construction nous (see profile page 11).

His role will basically be to ensure that Railtrack gets what it wants and is paying for. Already subtle changes to the original design prepared for London & Continental Railways have started to filter through. These include raising the design speed from 275kph to 300kph and introducing Railtrack's bespoke fault and maintenance identification software to the project.

However, perhaps more significantly, Railtrack is applying its collective muscle towards getting the railway finished and open on time. Railtrack project director Chris Jago is adamant that he should, and will, be central to what is happening on site in Kent.

Protecting its future revenue stream is second only to building the line safely, according to Jago. He is quick to point out that the construction risk is solely with Railtrack.

'This is very definitely Railtrack's project,' he insists. 'We are taking the risk, no one else. Therefore it is up to us to control that risk.'

He adds that while the Government may well have backed the bonds being used to fund the project, Railtrack has committed to paying the actual cost of construction when it buys the line in 2003. If costs do overrun, or if the line is not ready for trains on time, there will only be one loser.

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