WEST COAST Main Line delays and cost escalations resulted from government and Railtrack failures to control the project's scope, a Labour Conference fringe meeting heard on Monday.
Railtrack chief executive John Armitt said that the track operator had been over-keen to use the project as an excuse to fix other problems on and around the line. This included raising bridges and repairing junctions.
'As typical engineers, if someone asks us if we can do something as well as the project we are doing, we tend to say 'yes', ' he told the meeting, organised by the Fabian Society.
As a result, Railtrack had lost sight of what the project was really about, and then lost control of project costs.
Armitt said that Network Rail would work with contractors to cut the project back to its core.
He highlighted the fact that Railtrack was having difficulty finding signalling engineers, a problem which is also threatening the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (NCE 5 September).
'There are only 850 skilled engineers in the UK, ' he told the meeting.