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Railtrack may run risk over punctuality fines

NEWS

RAILTRACK MAY risk being fined by the Rail Regulator rather than meet 'unrealistic' punctuality improvement targets, it was claimed this week.

The Regulator last week ordered Railtrack to carve 15.6% off the total delay caused to trains by track infrastructure failure. It was given until 31 March 2000 to meet the new standards.

The target is in line with Railtrack's January commitment to cut delays by 7.5% year on year. But the company achieved only a 2% reduction in delays last year.

Chief executive Gerald Corbett had asked the Regulator to give it an extra three years to make up the shortfall (NCE 20 May).

A Railtrack source described the target as 'a bridge too far' because growth in the number of train services and the amount of work being carried out on the network were compounding delays. He added that Railtrack's response to the Regulator would be 'the best for its shareholders'.

'It is an unrealistic target and we as a company have to work out whether to run the risk of being fined,' he said.

Railtrack had argued that programmes of renewal and maintenance work which would in- fluence network performance could not be altered in mid year. But in a letter to Corbett, the Regulator, Chris Bolt, refused to accept this. 'Passengers have every right to expect this improvement,' he said.

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