LOCAL AUTHORITY rail chiefs are bypassing Railtrack as the promoter of rail projects vital to the government's 10 year transport plan, NCE has learned.
One has employed consultants instead and the others are planning to take on the track operator's role themselves.
Three of six Passenger Transport Authorities (PTA) contacted by NCE said that they were replacing Railtrack as the promoter of local rail schemes.
'We are going to miss Railtrack's project management expertise until the government sorts out what is happening with it, ' said Merseytravel director general Neil Scales. 'On some of our schemes such as the Allerton interchange we are going to use consultants instead.'
Keith Howcroft, planning and passenger services director at Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE).
'We should seriously look to take over responsibility for building new rail stations and improving existing ones, ' he said.
Construction of a rail station that GMPTE had project managed at Horwich Parkway in Bolton showed how much more cheaply projects could be done without Railtrack, he added.
This could apply to the 20 new stations needed in Greater Manchester over the next 10 years, he explained.
'Railtrack's commitment has been a problem at times, as has the high cost of using it for design and technical expertise.'
A spokesman at South Yorkshire PTA also said it was bypassing Railtrack on two small station projects in Sheffield and Doncaster and awarding work straight to contractors. But he added that Railtrack was still needed to sign off the work.
'They are struggling to come to terms with that a little bit, ' he said.
A Railtrack spokesman maintained that it still had the expertise to project manage local rail schemes.
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