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More rail closures in spring to complete rushed repairs

CONTRACTORS THIS week warned Railtrack that they will need more track closures so they can replace second hand fastening clips installed during the rush to make the rail network safe.

They will also have to return to recently closed track by spring next year to stress rail installed during the programme of mass renewals which followed last month's Hatfield train crash.

Rails do not have to be stressed when temperatures are low, but stressing work will have to be carried out before the end of winter.

Railtrack said it had a 'good weekend' renewing a further 37km of track last weekend, which was more than expected as workers were again out in force upgrading the network.

Railtrack said fastening clips were being re-used but that this was 'common practice', dependant on their age and condition.

He denied there was a shortage and that manufacturers could produce clips more quickly than contractors could use them.

But he accused some contractors of 'panic buying' and said that as a result of this some had been told they could have no more clips.

It is believed that Railtrack had a stockpile of 200,000 clips, but this is quickly being used up.

If the second hand clips are relatively new then they will still outlive the rail. If however the clips have already been in a few years, then further visits will be necessary.

Supply chain director Les Mosco said last week that Railtrack 'was keeping an eye out' for materials shortages during the mass renewal programme.

He said that the problem was not so much a shortage of materials but logistical problems getting the materials to where they were required.

Railtrack also confirmed that some short lengths of rail were being left unstressed, but that stressing would be done 'within the next two months.' Longer sections of continuously welded rail are prestressed, but the 18m lengths are stressed on site.

Contractors said they were also experiencing problems recruiting experienced staff.

And as one contractor said: 'Just because they have a PTS certificate doesn't mean they are experienced rail workers.'

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