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Railtrack extends control of network

RAILTRACK IS set to renegotiate all of its five year maintenance contracts in a 'radical shake up' which it hopes will help it take more direct control of work on the network.

The changes to employment of the rail network, billed as the 'biggest since privatisation', will give Railtrack more control to decide work planning and, it said, lead to closer relationships with contractors.

'We will take on to the Railtrack payroll a number of the contractors' engineers in a form of secondment, ' a Railtrack spokesman said, as the changes were announced this week. These engineers will report to Railtrack management and be paid by Railtrack.

The secondments will be supplemented by an additional 150 engineers recruited this year followed by 250 more later.

The radical changes to the workforce will also significantly reduce the casual and agency labour used on maintenance contracts. Changes will see contractors such as Balfour Beatty and Jarvis forced to employ a minimum of 85% of the workforce directly. Currently only 50% to 80% are directly employed.

The spokesman said that the new measures replace the limited maintenance planning and control changes previously announced for June this year.

(NCE 7 February).

'But John Armitt, the chief executive, felt it was better to push through these much greater measures in one go rather than introduce smaller changes piecemeal, ' said the spokesman.

Negotiations with contractors must be concluded by the end of the year. First of the new arrangements is due to come into force early next year in Balfour Beatty's Eastern Region.

The remainder will come in by April 2004.

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