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Armitt rejects in house track maintenance

RAILTRACK CHIEF executive John Armitt this week rejected the possibility of taking track maintenance in house, despite recent moves to increase control over it.

He said other major companies had successfully out sourced maintenance. Armitt was due to take over as chief executive of Railtrack successor Network Rail on Tuesday after Railtrack was taken out of administration.

'[Running an in-house maintenance operation] is not an option taken by BP for example - one of the UK's most successful companies - nor by the electricity companies or BT, ' he told a Labour Party conference fringe meeting on Monday.

'I don't think currently we have the competence to take maintenance back in house, ' he said.

Railtrack has said that it will take greater control of maintenance from contractors, to the point of directly employing seconded contracting staff (News last week). It also intends to become more closely involved in maintenance planning.

Armitt agreed that some maintenance contractors had mixed feelings about the change.

They are understood to be concerned that the loss of control over maintenance will hit margins as contractors will be taking on less risk.

There are also fears the contracting staff could become demotivated by secondment to Network Rail.

Armitt said cost control and centralising control of track work were his main priorities.

'We're spending £15M a day - largely on maintenance contractors, ' he said.

INFOPLUS www. rail

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