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Morton calls for Railtrack division

RAILTRACK'S OPERATIONS and maintenance activitities must be split from its major projects so that 'risk' finance can be more efficiently managed, shadow Strategic Rail Authority chairman Sir Alastair Morton said last week.

Major investment projects such as the West Coast Main Line set Railtrack's business apart from other utilities, he said, insisting this was a fundamental point the treasury struggled to understand.

Morton's comments came as he addressed the Rail Passengers' Council at a meeting in London. He explained that financing Railtrack's core business of operating and maintaining the network was quite different to funding major projects.

This, he said, required substantial equity to support its debt and had to be considered 'quite differently'.

Morton insisted he was not calling for a major reorganisation of Railtrack, but for clarity of focus and management, with both businesses operating under the Railtrack board.

Again stressing that he felt passengers would return to the rails, Morton said the industry had to press on with the Government's 10 year transport spending plan.

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