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Morton slams poor rail infrastructure

INFRASTRUCURE THAT cannot cope with demand and that lacks 'resilience' are the root causes of the present rail problems, shadow Strategic Rail Authority chairman Sir Alastair Morton said this week.

Answering wide ranging questions on the state of the rail industry from MPs at a Commons transport select committee, Morton condemned the industry's reaction since the Hatfield disaster, and said it was imperative a crisis management plan was developed.

Morton told MPs that the lack of rolling stock, drivers and capacity, and mounting maintenance requirements on a crammed full, ageing network, were at the root of many of the problems.

He said the sSRA would put in place a plan that outlined how industry would react to future disasters. 'This has not been efficient crisis management, ' he insisted.

He cited the electricity industry as an example where companies had been given 'a code on how to react in the event of a problem'.

Morton dismissed suggestions that Railtrack should not be allowed to appoint its own successor to chairman Sir Philip Beck. 'The Government has not got an unblemished record when it comes to picking company chairman, ' he pointed out.

However, he accepted that if money was being given to Railtrack he expected the company 'to be fit for it'.

The industry, Morton concluded, had a 'very, very disappointing record' when it came to introducing new rolling stock.

He blamed Railtrack, manufacturers and train operating companies for lack of delivery.

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