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Conservatives to hold Network Rail executives to account

The Conservatives propose making Network Rail directly accountable to passengers, and freezing executive bonuses in the event of failures or persistent delays, should they gain power in any future election.

The Conservatives say the overruns at Liverpool Street, Rugby and Glasgow last New Year highlighted problems in the management and accountability of the rail track operating company.

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: "When Gordon Brown set up Network Rail, he created a company that is accountable to no one. When things have gone wrong in the past, they have got off scot free. Even when they have been fined, it is the taxpayer who has been left to pick up the tab.

"This is just not good enough. We have a capacity crisis on our railways which can only be dealt with effectively by putting passengers and freight customers at the heart of the railway. That is why a Conservative Government will end the accountability vacuum created by Labour at Network Rail and establish a strong supervisory board – of passengers, train operators and business leaders – to hold the company to account," she said.

As part of their forthcoming Rail Review, the Conservatives propose holding Newtwork Rail to account to a "strong supervisory board" drawn from passengers, the rail industry and independent members with business experience, overseen by a regulator with enhanced powers to block senior executives' bonuses in the event of serious and persistent failure.

Villiers said: "The regulatory framework should be aimed at replicating a normal customer-supplier relationship between Network Rail and the train and freight operators so that the company is viewed as a supplier of infrastructure services, not the boss of the railways.

"In these tough economic times it is even more important that the rail industry focuses on the needs of passengers. That means delivering value for money and genuine accountability. We will put passengers first at Network Rail and ensure there is no reward for failure," she said.

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