RAIL REGULATOR Tom Winsor is considering fining Railtrack it it fails to speed up the approval of new rolling stock for use on the national rail network.
The fines proposal is contained in a consultation document published last week.
The document is aimed at streamlining Railtrack's procedures for accepting new trains to operate on the network It says Railtrack needs a stronger obligation to provide manufacturers with information about its approvals regime so they can tailor rolling stock to its needs.
Although the document states the slow approval process is not all down to Railtrack, it says the availability and provision of information for rolling stock manufacturers and train operators is lacking.
A dramatic shortage of rolling stock is anticipated in the near future. Thousands of examples of older type mark 1 rolling stock are due to be phased out by 2003.
At the moment hundreds of new trains are being held in sidings while operators seek approval from Railtrack to use them.
Railtrack said it has been working closely with the industry to get trains approved, but would not alter acceptance procedures if safety was compromised.
Rail industry sources now hope there will be action to speed up the approvals system for all new products introduced to the network.
Railtrack's product approvals system has also come under fire for being slow and causing great expense to manufactures (NCE 15 February).