RAIL CONTRACTORS this week accused Railtrack of trying to isolate itself from blame for future rail disasters after the track operator demanded details of all track safety risks in zones for which the contractors are responsible.
The contractors claimed Railtrack was making an unreasonable demand, given the crumbling state of the rail network.
Maintenance contractors were among around 200 rail suppliers to receive the order in a letter from Railtrack supply chain director Les Mosco. The letters had to be signed and returned by last Friday.
Mosco told NCE that Railtrack was simply seeking assurances that its contractors were adhering to the contracts within the appropriate safety laws.
'Railtrack accepts that it is fundamentally responsible for the network, ' he said.
'We are simply reminding contractors of their obligations and want assurances.' But contractors accused Railtrack of trying to create a 'safety net' for itself. They said that being asked to declare that they had informed Railtrack of all outstanding safety issues was unfair.
'We are maintaining a very old network, ' said one. 'The situation is changing all the time and what may be safe when we sign a letter may not be within an hour.'
Railtrack also told them to give details of action planned to deal with safety risks and to confirm that management processes were adequate to meet their contractual obligations.
Mosco said that Railtrack had received a large number of replies and all that had responded had been happy to give the required information.