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Morton calls on Railtrack to outsource major projects

RAILTRACK SHOULD hand its major projects over to privately financed consortia, Strategic Rail Authority chairman Sir Alastair Morton said this week.

He outlined proposals under which Railtrack would only take full control of privately financed infrastructure after it had been commissioned.

Railtrack said it agreed with the proposals, known as design build finance and transfer (DBFT).

On Tuesday the SRA launched its long awaited strategic agenda, outlining proposals for delivering major projects through public private partnerships between the private sector and the SRA.

But the agenda will disappoint many in the rail industry because it fails to prioritise schemes.

Instead, it simply lists 120 projects at various stages of development. The SRA admitted that some of these would not necessarily be built.

The SRA's more detailed strategic plan is to be published in the autumn once agreements have been reached 'or come within sight' on the replacement of the 18 passenger franchise contracts.

Morton said Railtrack should confine its spending to maintenance and track operation, leaving capital projects to private consortia.

But he added that privately financed groups could be asked to build and fund new infrastructure before handing it back to Railtrack on completion.

Railtrack said the SRA document 'clearly endorses the principle that Railtrack should own and operate the entire network'.

It also still feels that Railtrack will be involved in all network upgrades, though it accepts the degree of involvement will 'differ from project to project'.

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