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Railtrack set to miss performance targets once again

RAILTRACK CHIEF executive Gerald Corbett this week warned that Railtrack was again set to miss its annual performance targets.

Heavy rainfall, rolling stock problems and suicides were all cited as reasons for its expected failure to deliver promised infrastructure improvements for the second year running.

Last year Railtrack was hit by a £10M fine from Rail Regulator Tom Winsor after improving passenger delays by just 10%. The target of 12.7% and the fine represented £4M for each percentage point it fell short. Railtrack has since appealed.

Corbett's comments came during a speech at the National Railway Museum dinner in York last week. He warned the industry that this autumn 'performance will not be good'. Heavy spring rainfall would lead to a large leaf fall, and drivers would be focusing on defensive driving, he explained.

However, concern over Railtrack's failure to manage its assets properly also prompted the regulator to impose two new conditions in the operator's network license as he was not satisfied it 'can be left to the discretion of Railtrack'.

In a bid to force Railtrack to focus on maintenance, Winsor will now insist that Railtrack establishes a register of the capacity, condition and capability of its assets. The second condition requires it to develop a code of practice for its dealings with third parties.

Corbett defended Railtrack's investment record and said: 'Old trains break down and new trains have teething problems.'

He added: 'All our signalling resource is flat out on Train Protection Warning Systems, not on hitting performance targets.'

But Railtrack also this week admitted that work on this TPWS had now fallen behind.

A spokesman for the regulator emphasised that it was not looking to over penalise Railtrack for its problems, adding that the level of fines for not meeting targets had not been set.

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